LC-MS/MS coupled with immunoaffinity extraction for determination of estrone, 17beta-estradiol and estrone 3-sulfate in human plasma

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2010 Jan 15;878(2):222-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2009.08.010. Epub 2009 Aug 13.


Determination of estrogens in plasma is important in evaluation of effects of some anticancer drugs, such as aromatase inhibitors. However, as reported previously, high performance liquid chromatography-radio immunoassay (HPLC-RIA) and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) with chemical derivatization require complicated sample preparation. In this study, a highly sensitive and simple method for determination of estrone (E1), 17beta-estradiol (E2) and estrone 3-sulfate (E1S) in human plasma has been developed. Following diethylether extraction from plasma, analytes were purified by immunosorbents and then determined by LC-MS/MS using electrospray ionization (ESI). Immunosorbents were prepared by immobilization of specific antibodies raised against each analyte onto solid support. Use of selective immunosorbents in sample preparation removed interference in plasma samples that would cause ionization suppression, and markedly improved the sensitivity of LC-MS/MS for these analytes, without derivatization. Calibration curves of each analyte showed good linearity and reproducibility over the range of 0.05-50pg/injection for E1, 0.2-50pg/injection for E2 and 0.05-300pg/injection for E1S, respectively. The mean values of lower limits of quantification (LLOQ) in human plasma corrected by recovery of deuterated estrogens (internal standard, I.S.) were 0.1892pg/mL for E1, 0.7064pg/mL for E2 and 0.3333pg/mL for E1S, respectively. These LLOQ values were comparable to those previous reported using HPLC-RIA and LC-MS/MS. Using this method, the normal levels of three estrogens in healthy female plasma (n=5) were determined. The mean values of E1, E2 and E1S were 38.0pg/mL (range 24.8-53.0), 34.3pg/mL (22.6-46.6) and 786pg/mL (163-2080), respectively. The immunoaffinity LC-MS/MS described here allows sensitive and accurate quantification of E1, E2 and E1S without laborious sample preparation.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Immobilized / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Estradiol / blood*
  • Estradiol / immunology
  • Estradiol / isolation & purification
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Estrone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Estrone / blood*
  • Estrone / immunology
  • Estrone / isolation & purification
  • Estrone / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosorbent Techniques*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Antibodies, Immobilized
  • Estrone
  • Estradiol
  • estrone sulfate