Degradation and toxicity of mitoxantrone and chlorambucil in water

C. Gómez-Canela, B. Campos, C. Barata, S. Lacorte

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The combination of liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC–MS) and acute toxicity studies with Daphnia magna was used to elucidate the water stability of the cytostatic compounds, mitoxantrone and chlorambucil, and their transformation products (TPs). Both compounds were rapidly degraded in water with the subsequent formation of bioactive TPs. Mitoxantrone suffered a rapid change in its conformation with the formation of four toxic TPs, which were unaltered and stable in water along the 2-day studied period. LC–MS analyses were allowed to identify the conformational changes of mitoxantrone that included the loss of the two amino alcohols (N-ethylethanolamina) [C4H10NO]+, the loss of N-ethylethanolamina [C4H10NO]+ and N-methylethanolamina [C3H8NO]+, the loss of CH2OH from the original molecule and the formation of mitoxantrone dicarboxilic acid. Chlorambucil was also rapidly degraded in water loosing a hydroxyl group and forming a bioactive TP that further degraded within the following 12 h. The degradation of chlorambucil was also related to an exponential loss of toxic activity towards D. magna survival. The present results indicate that LC–MS methods should target TPs since field concentrations of these compounds measured in water may not reflect their toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-640
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Science and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Chlorambucil
  • Degradation
  • Mitoxantrone
  • Toxicity
  • Water


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