A wide variety of hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC) stationary phase surface chemistries are currently available. Although their selectivity can be considerably different, column comparison or clustering using peptides is limited. In this study, ten pharmaceutically relevant model peptides are analyzed on seven different HILIC columns (bare silica, amide, poly-hydroxyethyl aspartamide, diol and zwitterionic) for the evaluation of their performance and classification. The responses examined include single and multiple responses: plate number, asymmetry factor, LOD, geometric mean resolution, resolution product, time corrected resolution product, peak capacity and chromatographic response function. Column classification was performed using hierarchical clustering and principal component analysis. Moreover, the overall performance quality of the HILIC columns was compared using a linear desirability function. Hierarchical clustering and principal component analysis showed consistent clusters. The zwitterionic phase was clustered apart from the other HILIC columns and both poly-aspartamide columns were clustered together. In addition, the two bare silica phases represent two different clusters, and thus different selectivities. Overall, the responses showed the best performance for one of the bare silica columns (Alltima-Alltech), followed by the zwitterionic phase (ZIC)-HILIC. Thus, these columns, belonging to different clusters, were found to be the best performing systems in pharmaceutical peptide analysis for the selected peptide set.
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