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Comparison of the NMR and the Acid Value Determination Methods for Quality Control of Input Polysorbates

Ema Valentina Brovč, Stane Pajk, Roman Šink, Janez Mravljak


Polysorbates (PS) are the most common non-ionic surfactants used in protein formulations. Their degradation has been studied intensively in recent years. Ester bond hydrolysis is one of many pathways of PS degradation that can lead to accumulation of free fatty acids (FFAs) and particle formation. The distribution and quantity of FFAs in PSs impacts directly on product quality. Characterization of input PS is highly relevant, because the initial content of FFAs differs greatly between manufacturers. The purpose of this study was to set up a quick and simple analytical method for the quantitative evaluation of FFAs in PS. The content of FFAs was measured for selected PS 20 and 80, using two methods, 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR) and the European pharmacopoeia method for determining acid value (IA). These methods have been evaluated using the method of standard addition and, based on the results, they are interchangeable. It was concluded that 1H NMR is a useful tool for quality control of input PS and a rapid method for indicating the rate of PS degradation by hydrolysis and oxidation. Further, a newly discovered impurity in PS raw material, the long chain ketone 12-tricosanone, can be identified using 1H NMR.


Nuclear magnetic resonance; acid number; fatty acids; polysorbates; degradation

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Copyright (c) 2019 Ema Valentina Brovč, Stane Pajk, Roman Šink, Janez Mravljak

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