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Decomposition mechanism of hydroxychloroquine in aqueous solution by gamma irradiation

F. Boujelbane, K. Nasr, H. Sadaoui, H. M. Bui, F. Gantri, and N. Mzoughi

Research Laboratory on Matter and Energy for Nuclear Science Development, LR16CNSTN02, CNSTN, Tunis, Tunisia



Received: 15 September 2021  Accepted: 2 November 2021


One of the advanced oxidative processes is gamma irradiation, an efficient technique for removing pesticides and pharmaceutical products. Radiolytic degradation leads to free radical’s formation, which facilitates molecular lesion and breaks the chemical bonds. The use of pharmaceutical compounds, such as hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), is increasing nowadays due to the Covid 19 pandemic situation. This study focused on gamma radiation-induced degradation of HCQ in aqueous solution. The degradation was monitored by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) using an Eclipse XDB-C18 column (150 × 3.0 mm, 3.5 µm) and a mobile phase composed of 94% water (phosphate buffer at pH = 3.6) and 6% acetonitrile, with a DAD detection at λ = 343 nm. The effect of different gamma radiation doses (from 0.05 to 3 kGy) was investigated. Chromatographic analysis shows that 1 kGy dose is effective to degrade completely HCQ at 20 ppm and following a first-pseudo-kinetic order with a dose constant corresponding to 4.2 kGy−1. A comparison was done between gamma degradation and other methods. LC-QToF-MS/MS identified the intermediate products, and their kinetic constants were determined. A mechanism pathway was proposed for HCQ degradation under gamma irradiation.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Hydroxychloroquine; Advanced oxidation process; γ-irradiation; Kinetic rate; LC–MS/MS; Mechanism pathway

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-021-01969-1


Chemical Papers 76 (3) 1777–1787 (2022)

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