Ultrasensitive assay for three polyphenols (catechin, quercetin and resveratrol) and their conjugates in biological fluids utilizing gas chromatography with mass selective detection

J Chromatogr B Biomed Sci Appl. 2001 Jun 5;757(1):161-72. doi: 10.1016/s0378-4347(01)00142-6.


The concentrations of three polyphenols ((+)-catechin, quercetin and trans-resveratrol) in blood serum, plasma and urine, as well as whole blood, have been measured after their oral and intragastric administration, respectively, to humans and rats. The method developed for this purpose utilized ethyl acetate extraction of 100 microl samples and their derivatization with bis(trimethylsilyl)trifluoroacetamide (BSTFA) followed by gas-chromatographic analysis on a DB-5 column followed by mass selective detection employing two target ions and one qualifier ion for each compound. Total run time was 17 min with excellent resolution and linearity. The limits of detection (LOD) and quantitation (LOQ) were an order of magnitude less than for any previously published method, being 0.01 microg/l and 0.1 microg/l, respectively, for all compounds. Recovery at 1 microg/l and 10 microg/l was >80% in all instances but one, and was >90% in 50%. Imprecision was acceptable at 0.25 and 1.0 microg/l, concentrations below the LOQ of previous methods. Aglycones released from conjugates after hydrolysis were easily measurable. Optimal conditions for hydrolysis were established. After oral administration of the three polyphenols to humans, their conjugates vastly exceeded the concentrations of the aglycones in both plasma and urine. Concentrations peaked within 0.5-1.0 h in plasma and within 8 h in urine. During the first 24 h, 5.1% of the (+)-catechin and 24.6% of the trans-resveratrol given were recovered in the urine (free plus conjugated). This method can be proposed as the method of choice to assay these polyphenols and their conjugates in biological fluids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Catechin / analysis*
  • Catechin / blood
  • Catechin / urine
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Quality Control
  • Quercetin / analysis*
  • Quercetin / blood
  • Quercetin / urine
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Resveratrol
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stilbenes / analysis*
  • Stilbenes / blood
  • Stilbenes / urine


  • Stilbenes
  • Catechin
  • Quercetin
  • Resveratrol