Serum steroid profiling for congenital adrenal hyperplasia using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry

Clin Chim Acta. 2010 Feb;411(3-4):222-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2009.11.007. Epub 2009 Nov 24.


Background: Diagnosis of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) is based on the quantification of 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP), usually by immunoassay. During the neonatal period the specificity of screening for CAH by blood spot 17-OHP immunoassay is low. High false-positive rates result in a relatively high demand for a second-tier serum confirmation test. A robust, specific and selective method for measurement of cortisol, 21-deoxycortisol, 11-deoxycortisol, 4-androstene-3,17-dione (A4) and 17-OHP in serum has been developed. The method involves a simple extraction procedure and a fast analysis using ultra-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC/MS/MS).

Methods: The steroids were extracted from 50microl of serum using methyl-tert-butyl-ether. Analysis was performed on a UPLC tandem quadrupole mass spectrometer system in positive mode electrospray ionization and multiple reaction monitoring acquisition.

Results: The assay was linear over each analyte concentration range with all correlation coefficients (r(2))>0.996. Inter- and intra-day CVs were <or=10% across the analytical range. In addition simultaneous measurement of the full range of steroids on the pathway to cortisol allows confirmation of the affected steroidogenic enzyme.

Conclusions: A second-tier test for the confirmation of CAH has been developed. The method allows for detection and quantification of 5 steroids related to CAH over the range of the clinical assay with good linearity, sensitivity and precision.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital / blood*
  • Adult
  • Analytic Sample Preparation Methods
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Steroids / blood*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Time Factors


  • Steroids