Degradation of the tricyclic antipsychotic drug chlorpromazine under environmental conditions, identification of its main aquatic biotic and abiotic transformation products by LC-MSn and their effects on environmental bacteria.

Journal of chromatography. B, Analytical technologies in the biomedical and life sciences

PubMedID: 22342447

Trautwein C, Kümmerer K. Degradation of the tricyclic antipsychotic drug chlorpromazine under environmental conditions, identification of its main aquatic biotic and abiotic transformation products by LC-MSn and their effects on environmental bacteria. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2012;889-89024-38.
The search for environmental transformation products of organic pollutants (like drugs) is a difficult task and usually only few compounds are detected. This might be due to effective degradation but could also be a result of analytical deficits dealing with complex matrices. Especially transformation products of very low concentrations in sludge were difficult to identify so far. Additionally, the use of standard separation techniques might lead to the loss of isomeric compounds, which possess identical spectroscopic and spectrometric properties. To date no complete study investigating the environmental fate of any tricyclic antipsychotic drug has been reported. Therefore, this study investigated the popular neuroleptic drug chlorpromazine and its potential transformation by all main environmental pathways: aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation as well as abiotic photolytic degradation by sunlight. Analysis of test samples by high performance liquid chromatography coupled to multiple stage mass-spectrometry (HPLC-MS(n)) allowed the detection of numerous compounds. Further, the use of a special software allowed distinguishing between transformation products of small intensities and background "noise" caused by sludge or matrix. Three aerobic tests of different bacterial density (the Closed Bottle test, OECD 301D; the Manometric Respiratory test, OECD 301F; the modified Zahn-Wellens test, 302B; one anaerobic test (a modified anaerobic degradation test according to ISO 11734) as well as a photodegradation test were performed in the present study. According to the individual test guidelines, chlorpromazine had to be classified as not biodegradable in all of the biodegradation tests. However, a special chromatographic column and gradient along with mass spectrometric fragmentation experiments of higher order uncovered the presence of a total of 61 abiotic and biotic transformation products which where formed during the course of the tests. The structures of three aerobic and one anaerobic biotransformation products were elucidated by HPLC-UV-Flourescence-MS(n). Photodegradation showed almost complete elimination of chlorpromazine after 4h of irradiation with a xenon arc lamp. 57 photoproducts were found and for 28 of them LC-MS(n) fragmentation experiments (n=4) were performed. The molecular structures of the three main photolysis products were elucidated. The identified transformation products are expected to be found in the aquatic environment, yet nothing is known about their ecotoxicological properties. As some of the performed tests showed toxic effects of chlorpromazine or its transformation products on bacteria, further risk assessment upon this drug and its fate is strongly recommended.