A screening method for the simultaneous detection of glucocorticoids, diuretics, stimulants, anti-oestrogens, beta-adrenergic drugs and anabolic steroids in human urine by LC-ESI-MS/MS

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2008 Oct;392(4):681-98. doi: 10.1007/s00216-008-2292-5. Epub 2008 Aug 14.


This paper presents a general screening method, based on liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS), for the simultaneous detection in human urine of 72 xenobiotics (21 diuretics, 16 synthetic glucocorticoids, 17 beta-adrenergic drugs, 10 stimulants, 5 anti-oestrogens and 3 anabolic steroids), excreted free or as glucuro-conjugates in urine. Although the method has been specifically designed and evaluated in view of its potential application to anti-doping analyses, it can also be effective in other areas of analytical toxicology. Sample preparation was based on two liquid/liquid separation steps (performed at alkaline and at acid pH, respectively) of hydrolyzed human urine, and then an assay by LC/MS-MS in positive and negative ionization mode using an electrospray ionization source (ESI) and multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) as the acquisition mode. The overall time needed for an LC run was less than 15 minutes. All compounds showed good reproducibility in terms of both the retention times (CV%<1) and the relative abundances of the diagnostic transitions (CV%<10). The limits of detection (LOD) were in the range of 1-50 ng/mL for glucocorticoids, anti-oestrogens and steroids, and 50-500 ng/mL for diuretics, beta-adrenergic drugs and stimulants, thus satisfying the minimum required performance limits (MRPL) set by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for the accredited anti-doping laboratories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / urine*
  • Anabolic Agents / urine
  • Diuretics / urine*
  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators / urine*
  • Glucocorticoids / urine
  • Hormones / urine*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*
  • Steroids / urine*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Urine / chemistry


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Anabolic Agents
  • Diuretics
  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Hormones
  • Steroids