Simultaneous stereoselective analysis by capillary electrophoresis of tramadol enantiomers and their main phase I metabolites in urine

J Chromatogr A. 1999 Jun 18;846(1-2):227-37. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9673(99)00028-x.


Capillary zone electrophoresis was successfully applied to the enantiomeric resolution of racemic tramadol and its six phase I metabolites using carboxymethylated beta-cyclodextrin (CMB) added to the background electrolyte (BGE). Baseline resolution of tramadol and its metabolites was obtained in less than 30 min using a 50 mM phosphate buffer (pH 2.5) containing 5 mM of CMB. Chiral determinations of tramadol and its main three metabolites, O-demethyltramadol (M1), N-demethyltramadol (M2) and O-demethyl-N-demethyltramadol (M5), were performed in urine after a simple double liquid-liquid extraction of 200 microliters of biological material. In the tested concentration range (0.5-20 micrograms/ml, except for M2: 0.5-10 micrograms/ml) coefficients of correlation superior than 0.994 were obtained. Within-day variation determined on three different concentrations for each enantiomers showed accuracies ranging from 95.4% to 103.2%. The relative standard deviation (RSD) of these assays was determined to be less than 10.0%. Day-to-day variation presented accuracies ranging from 96.3% to 106.5% with a RSD less than 9.0%. After oral administration of 100 mg of tramadol hydrochloride to an healthy volunteer, the urinary excretion was monitored during 30 h. About 15% of the dose was excreted as unchanged tramadol. The enantiomeric ratios of all the excreted analytes, T, M1, M2 and M5, were found to be very different to 1.0, showing that a stereoselective metabolism of tramadol clearly occurred.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / chemistry
  • Analgesics, Opioid / urine*
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary / methods*
  • Humans
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Tramadol / chemistry
  • Tramadol / urine*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Tramadol