Ultra-sensitive quantification of paclitaxel using selective solid-phase extraction in conjunction with reversed-phase capillary liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry

J Chromatogr A. 2008 Nov 14;1210(2):160-7. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2008.09.052. Epub 2008 Sep 19.


The ability to quantify ultra-low concentrations of biologically active compounds in biological matrices is essential for the study of pharmacological/toxicological effects occurring at low doses. Selective solid-phase extraction (SPE) was combined with highly sensitive capillary LC (microLC)-MS/MS analysis to achieve ultra-sensitive quantification of the anti-cancer drug paclitaxel in cancer cells. The optimized SPE selectively extracted paclitaxel and eliminated undesirable matrix compounds, thus enabling a high sample loading volume on the microLC column without compromising chromatographic performance and operational robustness. The validated lower limit of quantification (LOQ) was 5pg/mL, approx. 20-fold more sensitive than published LC-MS/MS methods. The calibration curve was linear over the range of 5-6250pg/mL. Accuracy was 98-109% and the variation (CV%) was 2.3-7.4%. This method was applied successfully to quantify temporal drug accumulation by A121a ovarian cancer cells treated with sub-ng/mL concentrations of paclitaxel.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / analysis
  • Calibration
  • Cell Line, Tumor / chemistry
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Paclitaxel / analysis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Solid Phase Extraction / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Paclitaxel