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FELIX improves in silico toxicity assesment of agrochemical transformation products

Date of news: 2 February 2024

Toxicological assessments of newly developed agrochemical agents consider chemical modifications and their metabolic and biotransformation products. To carry out an in silico hazard assessment, understanding the type of chemical modification and its location on the original compound can greatly enhance the reliability of the evaluation. Here, we present and apply a method based on liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS) enhanced with infrared ion spectroscopy (IRIS) to better delineate the molecular structures of transformation products before in silico toxicology evaluation. IRIS facilitates the recording of IR spectra directly in the mass spectrometer for features selected by retention time and mass-to-charge ratio. By utilizing quantum-chemically predicted IR spectra for candidate molecular structures, one can either derive the actual structure or significantly reduce the number of (isomeric) candidate structures. This approach can assist in making informed decisions. We apply this method to a plant growth stimulant, digeraniol sinapoyl malate (DGSM), that is currently under development. Incubation of the compound in Caco-2 and HepaRG cell lines in multiwell plates and analysis by LC–MS reveals oxidation, glucuronidation, and sulfonation metabolic products, whose structures were elucidated by IRIS and used as input for an in silico toxicology assessment. The toxicity of isomeric metabolites predicted by in silico tools was also assessed, which revealed that assigning the right metabolite structure is an important step in the overall toxicity assessment of the agrochemical. We believe this identification approach can be advantageous when specific isomers are significantly more hazardous than others and can help better understand metabolic pathways.

Collaboration with German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.


Matthias Vink, Jimmy Alarcan, Jonathan Martens, Wybren Jan Buma, Albert Braeuning, Giel Berden, Jos Oomens, Chem. Res. Toxicol. 2024, 37, 81-97.