Simultaneous determination of clarithromycin, rifampicin and their main metabolites in human plasma by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2009 Jun 15;877(18-19):1771-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2009.04.038. Epub 2009 May 3.


The drug combination rifampicin and clarithromycin is used in regimens for infections caused by Mycobacteria. Rifampicin is a CYP3A4 inducer while clarithromycin is known to inhibit CYP3A4. During combined therapy rifampicin concentrations may increase and clarithromycin concentrations may decrease. Therefore a simple, rapid and easy method for the measurement of the blood concentrations of these drugs and their main metabolites (14-hydroxyclarithromycin and 25-desacetylrifampicin) is developed to evaluate the effect of the drug interaction. The method is based on the precipitation of proteins in human serum with precipitation reagent containing the internal standard (cyanoimipramine) and subsequently high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) detection in an electron positive mode. The method validation included selectivity, linearity, accuracy, precision, dilution integrity, recovery and stability according to the "Guidance for Industry - Bioanalytical Method Validation" of the FDA. The calibration curves were linear in the range of 0.10-10.0 mg/L for clarithromycin and 14-hydroxyclarithromycin and 0.20-5.0 mg/L for rifampicin and 25-desacetylrifampicin, with within-run and between-run precisions (CVs) in the range of 0% to -10%. The components in human plasma are stable after freeze-thaw (three cycles), in the autosampler (3 days), in the refrigerator (3 days) and at room temperature (clarithromycin and 14-hydroxyclarithromycin: 3 days; rifampicin and 25-desacetylrifampicin: 1 day). The developed rapid and fully validated liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) method is suitable for the determination of clarithromycin, 14-hydroxyclarithromycin, rifampicin and 25-desacetylrifampicin in human plasma.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / blood*
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Clarithromycin / analogs & derivatives
  • Clarithromycin / blood*
  • Humans
  • Rifampin / analogs & derivatives
  • Rifampin / blood*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • 14-hydroxyclarithromycin
  • Clarithromycin
  • 25-deacetylrifampicin
  • Rifampin