Determination of methotrexate and its major metabolite 7-hydroxymethotrexate in mouse plasma and brain tissue by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry

J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2007 Apr 11;43(5):1789-95. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2006.12.034. Epub 2007 Jan 12.


Methotrexate (MTX) is an anticancer agent that is widely used in a variety of human cancers including primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL). Important pharmacological properties that directly bear on the use of MTX in PCNSL, such as mechanisms that govern its uptake into brain tumors, are poorly defined, but are amenable to investigation in mouse models. In order to pursue such preclinical pharmacological studies, a rapid and sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) method for the determination of MTX and its metabolite, 7-hydroxymethotrexate (7-OH MTX) in plasma and microdialysate samples from brain tumors and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is needed. The plasma assay was based on 10 microl samples and following a protein precipitation procedure enabled direct injection onto a LC/MS/MS system using positive electrospray ionization. A column switching technique was employed for desalting and the clean-up of microdialysate samples from brain tissues. The methods were validated for MTX and 7-OH MTX in both plasma and microdialysate samples from brain tumor and CSF, and produced lower limits of quantification (LLOQ) in plasma of 3.7 ng/ml for MTX and 7.4 ng/ml for 7-OH MTX, and in microdialysate samples of 0.7 ng/ml for both MTX and 7-OH MTX. The utility of the method was demonstrated by estimation of pharmacokinetic (PK) and brain distribution properties of MTX and 7-OH MTX in conscious mice. The method has the advantages of low sample volume, rapid clean-up, and the simultaneous measurement of MTX and 7-OH MTX in plasma and brain tissues allowing detailed PK studies to be completed in individual mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / analysis*
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / blood
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Methotrexate / analogs & derivatives*
  • Methotrexate / analysis*
  • Methotrexate / blood
  • Methotrexate / chemistry
  • Methotrexate / metabolism*
  • Methotrexate / pharmacokinetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microdialysis
  • Molecular Structure
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • 7-hydroxymethotrexate
  • Methotrexate