Direct quantification of steroid glucuronides in human urine by liquid chromatography-electrospray tandem mass spectrometry

J Chromatogr A. 2008 Mar 7;1183(1-2):108-18. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2008.01.045. Epub 2008 Jan 26.


A method based on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) for the direct quantification of glucuronides of testosterone (TG), epitestosterone (EPG), androsterone (AG) and etiocholanolone (ETG) has been developed. The method allowed for the direct determination of these analytes avoiding hydrolysis and derivatization, which are usual steps in commonly used methods based on gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The electrospray ionization and the product ion spectra of the glucuronides have been studied in order to obtain the most specific transitions. The use of the selected transitions is necessary for the determination of the analytes at low ng/ml concentration levels. Two different approaches have been tested for sample preparation: direct injection after filtration and acidic liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) with ethyl acetate. Both approaches have been validated obtaining satisfactory values for accuracy and precision with limits of detection lower than 1 ng/ml for TG and EPG. Ion suppression was more pronounced after LLE probably due to the concentration of interferences from acidic urine. The applicability of the method has been checked by the analysis of 40 urine samples. The results were compared with those obtained with the common GC-MS method. Results have shown a good correlation between both methods with correlation coefficients higher than 0.97. A slope close to 1 was obtained for all analytes except for AG possibly due to losses during the extraction process prior to GC-MS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / urine*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Filtration
  • Glucuronides / urine*
  • Humans
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*
  • Steroids / urine*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Glucuronides
  • Steroids