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Notes on the Determination of Theophylline, Alone

and in Combinations, by the U. S. P.

Aminophylline Method*
In adapting argentometric methods to the assay of certain nitrogenous organic com-
pounds, the U. S. P. assay of theophylline was reviewed in detail. Increased pre-
cision of results was noted when (a)the precipitated mixture was cooled before filtra-
tion, and (b) when the ammonia presently required in the assay was omitted. The
substitution of other buffers (lactates and acetates) for the ammonia was not advan-
tageous. Physical and chemical characteristics of silver theophyllinate were re-
viewed, and modification of the present U . S. P. assays of theophylline and amino-
phylline is suggested.

HE PRESENT U. S. P. method for the assay of These facts have made an investigation of the
theophylline in aminophylline became official present U. S. P. method for the determination of
with the Eleventh Revision, Second Supplement theophylline in compounds seem warranted.
(l), and has continued virtually unchanged
through subsequent pharmacopeial revisions. It EXPERIMENTAL
has since been adopted for the determination of Samples of theophylline and aminophylline were
theophylline in theophylline tablets, theophylline assayed by the U. S. P XI11 method for theophylline
and sodium acetate, and theophylline and sodium in aminophylline, as shown in Table I. Samples
acetate tablets. While other official works and were then analyzed by modifying this method by
allowing the sample to cool to room temperature be-
standard methods (2, 3) employ gravimetric fore filtration. Results are given in Table I under
procedures, the U. S. P. assay is argentometric, modification I. The addition of 2 cc. of a 10% solu-
and is based upon the reaction of theophylline tion of sodium acetate as a buffer prior to precipita-
with 0.1 N silver nitrate to form silver theophyl- tion yielded the results given in Table I as modifica-
tion 11, and with 2 cc. of a 50% solution of sodium Y -
linate, Ag(GH7N402). Precipitation is carried lactate as a buffer, those of modification 111. Sam-
out in a slightly ammoniacal solution (about 1 ples were then analyzed by omitting the ammonia
per cent); the mixture is digested for fifteen required by the U. S. P., using no buffer, and cooling
minutes on a water bath and filtered while hot. the precipitated solution to room temperature before
On cooling, excess 0.1 N silver nitrate is titrated filtration. Results are given in the table under
modification IV. This last modification appears to
with 0.1 N ammonium thiocyanate using ferric give the most uniform results.
ammonium sulfate T. S. as an indicator (4).
Since silver nitrate forms insoluble compounds DISCUSSION
with many nitrogenous organic substances, assay
When the U. S. P. method was used, precipitation
methods similar to the official procedure for theo- sometimes occurred in the hot filtrate as it was cooled
phylline in its compounds have been suggested to room temperature for titration. Many other or-
for many such substances (5-7). These methods ganic silver complexes are quite soluble in hot water
differ from the U. S. P. in the details of tempera- (8). Other similar argentometric methods direct
cooling before filtration (5,9). By comparison of the
ture of filtration, quantity of ammonia used, and results in the table, it may be seen that the maximum
addition of buffer salts. I n recent re-evaluations deviation of results from the average values obtained
of these methods (S), it has been noted that appreciably decreases if the mixture is not filtered
many of the silver precipitates fail to form, or are while still warm (4).
Mangouri and Milad (5) suggested the use of a
redissolved, when a slight excess of ammonia is
sodium acetate buffer in the argentometric assay of
present. Further, some partially dissolve upon barbituric acid derivatives. They called attention to
moderate heating, and precipitation has been ob- the fact that such solutions tended to become more
served in theophylline filtrates upon cooling after acidic as the silver compounds were precipitated, and
warm filtration. Also, the use of buffers in theo- that this condition sometimes caused incomplete
precipitation, and could be prevented by the use of
phylline determinations has not been reported. the buffer. However, when sodium acetate was
* Received May 5, 1950, from the University of Southern
used in the theophylline determinations, unusually
California, College of Pharmacy, Los Angeles, Calif. high percentages were obtained (modification 11).
Presented to the Scientific Section, A. PA. A,, Atlantic Due to the possibility that this error was caused by
City meeting, May 1950.
t Fellow of the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical the co-precipitation of silver acetate, a salt which
Education, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, would yield a more soluble silver compound, sodium
S,Associate Professor of Pharmacy, University of Southern
California, Los Angeles. r-lactate, was employed in a further series of deter-

minations. The high values again obtained (modi- line in aminophylline (11) and was required in the
fication 111) and the formation of bulky, gelatinousadopted U. S. P. XI assay, although the amount was
precipitates which were difficult to filter and wash,
changed from 7 to 8 cc. per sample. While am-
and which were relatively unstable, seemed t o indi-monia may aid the initial solution of the sample, no
cate that addition of alkaline buffers would not in-difficulty was encountered when i t was omitted.
crease the accuracy of the U. S. P. method. The character of the precipitate is relatively un-
The use of ammonia in the argentometric pre- changed as t o stability and ease of filtration in non-
cipitation of the xanthines was first suggested by ammoniacal solution.
Kunze (10) for the precipitation of theobromine. No On the other hand, silver theophyllinate and
other supporting evidence for the use of ammonia most other silver precipitates are soluble in am-
has been found in the literature. Ammonia was monia, and this places a quantitative aspect upon
used in the proposed U. S. P. XI assay for theophyl-the amount of ammonia used which the assay does
not closely control. Its omission, accompanied by
TABLE DETERMINATION OF THEOPHYLLINE cold filtration, yielded the best series of determina-
AND FOURMODIFICATIONS It should be noted that the results for theophylline
in aminophylline when ammonia is omitted are some-
Theo- what higher than those obtained when it is used.
Sample phylline.
Method Sample Wt. % The reason for this is not apparent, but it is not due
u. s.P. XI11 Theophylline A 0.3231 99. 08a to any reaction of the ethylene diamine, as was
Theophylline B 0.2966 98.31 shown by running blank determinations with
Theophylline C 0.3275 97.86 ethylene diamine alone.
Theophylline D 0.2794 98.57 It was also observed that the precipitates formed
Av. 98.45 were less gelatinous when a larger excess of silver
Aminophylline A 0.2349 80.0 l b nitrate was present, and the use of 50 ml. of 0.1 N
Aminophylline B 0.3470 81.48
Aminophylline C 0.2167 81.09 silver nitrate in place of 20 rnl. aids in forming a less
Av. 80.86 bulky precipitate.
Modification Theophylline A 0.3088 98.41
I Theophylline B 0.3335 98.38 CONCLUSIONS
Theophylline C 0.3126 98.12
Theophylline D 0.2579 98.38 1. The U. S. P. XI11 method for the deter-
Av. 98.32 mination of theophylline i n aminophylline has
Aminophylline A 0.2026 80.67b been subjected to laboratory evaluation in original
Aminophylline B 0.2171 81.34
Aminophylline C 0.1717 80.98 and modified procedures.
Av. 81.00 2. The cooling of the precipitated mixture be-
Modification Theophylline A 0.2597 101. 77n fore filtration appeared t o increase the precision
I Id Theophylline B 0.2525 103.02
Theophylline C 0.2476 103.63 of the assay.
Theophylline D 0.2503 99.58 3. T h e addition of sodium acetate or sodium
Av. 102.00 I lactate as a buffer was not advantageous.
Aminophylline A 0.3160 84.53*
Aminophylline B 0.4000 83.45 4. The addition of 8 cc. of ammonia T. S. as
Aminophylline C 0.3720 83.69 directed in the present monograph appears un-
Av. 83.89 necessary and may constitute a source of error.
Modification Theophylline A 0.2500 97.944
111 Theophylline B 0.2544 102.37 5. Increasing the volume of 0.1 N silver
Theophylline C 0.2530 100.65 nitrate to 50 ml. per sample aids i n forming a less
Theophylline D 0.2503 97.61 bulky precipitate.
Av. 99.14
Aminophylline A 0.2450 87.80 6. It is suggested that the present assay may
Aminophylline B 0.2520 86.90 be improved b y omitting the ammonia T. S.,
Aminophylline C 0.2430 88.92 increasing the volume of 0.1 N silver nitrate used,
Av . 87.87
Modification Theophylline A 0.1585 98.04a a n d cooling the precipitated mixture before filtra-
IV Theophylline B 0.2013 98.07 tion.
Theophylline C 0.2490 97.93
Theophylline D 0.3470 98.12 REFERENCES
Theophylline E 0.2012 97.99 (1) United States Pharmacopoeia. Eleventh Revisioo,
Theophylline F 0.2015 97.84 Second Supplement. Mack Publishing Co., Eastoo, Pa.,
Av. 98.00 1939. P. 105.
(2) The British Pharmacopoeia. Constable and Co..
Aminophylline A O . 83. 50b London. 1948. p. 558.
Aminophylline B 0.1731 82.86 (3) Methods of Analysis of the Association of Official
Aminophylline C 0.2930 82.15 Agricultural Chemists, Fifth Revision, Washington. D. C.,
Aminophylline D 0.2739 83.30 (4)p.United
19408 593. States Pharmacopoeia, Thirteenth Re-
Aminophylline E 0.3181 83.35 vision. Mack Publishinn Co.. Eastoo. Pa.. 1947. D. 30.
(51 Mangouri. H.R.,and Milad, L:. Quwi. J . Pharm.
Aminophylline F O i Z 2 O =:$
Phormocol., 20,109(1947).

0 Expressed as theophylline monohydrate.

. (6) Budde. H., Agofh.-Zff., 49. 295(1934).
(7) Kalinowslci, K.,Wiododsci Form., 62, 633(1935).
(8) Grifleohngen, G. B., unpublished research report,
b Expressed as anhydrous theophylline. University of Southern California, 1949.
C Precipitated mixture cooled before filtration. (9) Cnrvalho R. R. J . farm. (Lisbon), 6, 41(1947).
d 2 cc. of 10% sodium acetate added before precipitation. [lo) Kuoze. W.E.,Anolyst, 11, 194(1894).
2 cc. of 50% sodium r-lactate added before precipitation. 11) Stevens, A. N.,and Wilson, D. T., Tms JOURNAL,
I Ammonia omitted nod mixture cooled. 26,314(1937).