High-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection applied to the analysis of 3,4-dihydroxymethamphetamine in human plasma and urine

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2002 Apr 5;769(2):313-21. doi: 10.1016/s1570-0232(02)00020-x.


Metabolic activation in the disposition of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "ecstasy") has been implicated in some of its pharmacological and toxicological effects, with the major metabolite 3,4-dihydroxymethamphetamine (HHMA) as a putative toxicant through the formation of thioether adducts. We describe the first validated method for HHMA determination based on acid hydrolysis of plasma and urine samples, further extraction by a solid-phase strong cation-exchange resin (SCX, benzenesulfonic acid), and analysis of extracts by high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. The chromatographic separation was performed in an n-butyl-silane (C4) column and the mobile phase was a mixture of 0.1 M sodium acetate containing 0.1 M 1-octanesulphonic acid and 4 mM EDTA (pH 3.1) and acetonitrile (82:18, v/v). Compounds were monitored with an electrochemical cell (working potentials 1 and 2, +0.05 and +0.35 V, respectively, gain 60 microA). A mobile phase conditioning cell with a potential set at +0.40 V was connected between the pumping system and the injector. Calibration curves were linear within the working concentration ranges of 50-1000 microg/L for urine and plasma. Limits of detection and quantification were 10.5 and 31.8 microg/L for urine and 9.2 and 28.2 microg/L for plasma. Recoveries for HHMA and DHBA (3,4-dihydroxybenzylamine, internal standard) were close to 50% for both biological matrices. Intermediate precision and inter-day accuracy were within 3.9-6.5% and 7.4-15.3% for urine and 5.0-10.8% and 9.2-13.4% for plasma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Deoxyepinephrine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxyepinephrine / analysis*
  • Deoxyepinephrine / blood
  • Deoxyepinephrine / urine
  • Electrochemistry / methods*
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • alpha-methylepinine
  • Deoxyepinephrine