Measuring fifteen endogenous estrogens simultaneously in human urine by high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry

Anal Chem. 2005 Oct 15;77(20):6646-54. doi: 10.1021/ac050697c.


A sensitive, specific, accurate, and precise high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry method for measuring the absolute quantities of 15 endogenous estrogens and their metabolites in human urine has been developed and validated. The method requires a single hydrolysis/extraction/derivatization step and only 0.5 mL of urine, yet is capable of simultaneously quantifying estrone and its 2-, 4-methoxy and 2-, 4-, and 16alpha-hydroxy derivatives, and 2-hydroxyestrone-3-methyl ether; estradiol and its 2-, 4-methoxy and 2-, 16alpha-hydroxy derivatives, 16-epiestriol, 17-epiestriol, and 16-ketoestradiol in pre- and postmenopausal women as well as men. Standard curves are linear over a 10(3)-fold concentration range with the standard error of the estimate (SEE) and the relative standard error of the estimate (RSEE) for the linear regression line ranging from 0.0131 to 0.1760 and 1.2 to 7.3%, respectively. The lower limit of quantitation for each estrogen is 0.02 ng/0.5 mL urine sample (2 pg on column), with the percent recovery of a known added amount of compound (accuracy) of 96-107% and an overall precision, including the hydrolysis, extraction, and derivatization steps, of 1-5% relative standard deviation (RSD) for samples prepared concurrently and 1-12% RSD for samples prepared in separate batches. Since individual patterns of estrogen metabolism may influence the risk of breast cancer, accurate, precise, and specific measurement of endogenous estrogen metabolites in biological matrixes will facilitate future research on breast cancer prevention, screening, and treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Estrogens / chemistry*
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Estrogens / urine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Structure
  • Molecular Weight
  • Quality Control
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors


  • Estrogens