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MDPI, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16(22), p. 9072, 2021

DOI: 10.3390/ijms22169072

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Simultaneous Monitoring of Monoclonal Antibody Variants by Strong Cation-Exchange Chromatography Hyphenated to Mass Spectrometry to Assess Quality Attributes of Rituximab-Based Biotherapeutics

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Abstract

Different manufacturing processes and storage conditions of biotherapeutics can lead to a significant variability in drug products arising from chemical and enzymatic post-translational modifications (PTMs), resulting in the co-existence of a plethora of proteoforms with different physicochemical properties. To unravel the heterogeneity of these proteoforms, novel approaches employing strong cation-exchange (SCX) high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) hyphenated to mass spectrometry (MS) using a pH gradient of volatile salts have been developed in recent years. Here, we apply an established SCX-HPLC-MS method to characterize and compare two rituximab-based biotherapeutics, the originator MabThera® and its Indian copy product Reditux™. The study assessed molecular differences between the two drug products in terms of C-terminal lysine variants, glycosylation patterns, and other basic and acidic variants. Overall, MabThera® and Reditux™ displayed differences at the molecular level. MabThera® showed a higher degree of galactosylated and sialylated glycoforms, while Reditux™ showed increased levels of oligomannose and afucosylated glycoforms. Moreover, the two drug products showed differences in terms of basic variants such as C-terminal lysine and N-terminal truncation, present in Reditux™ but not in MabThera®. This study demonstrates the capability of this fast SCX-HPLC-MS approach to compare different drug products and simultaneously assess some of their quality attributes.