Determination of nandrolone metabolites in human urine: comparison between liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2010 Jul 15;24(13):1881-94. doi: 10.1002/rcm.4583.


Nandrolone (19-nortestosterone) is an androgenic anabolic steroid illegally used as a growth-promoting agent in animal breeding and as a performance enhancer in athletics. Therefore, its use was officially banned in 1974 by the Medical Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Following nandrolone administration, the main metabolites in humans are 19-norandrosterone, 19-norethiocolanolone and 19-norepiandrosterone, and their presence in urine is the basis of detecting its abuse. The present work was undertaken to determine, in human urine, nandrolone metabolites (phase I and phase II) by developing and comparing multiresidue liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) methods. A double extraction by solid-phase extraction (SPE) was necessary for the complete elimination of the interfering compounds. The proposed methods were also tested on a real positive sample, and they allow us to determine the conjugated/free fractions ratio reducing the risk of false positive or misleading results and they should allow laboratories involved in doping control analysis to monitor the illegal use of steroids. The advantages of LC/MS/MS over GC/MS (which is the technique mainly used) include the elimination of the hydrolysis and derivatization steps: it is known that during enzymatic hydrolysis several steroids can be converted into related compounds and deconjugation is not always 100% effective. The validation parameters for the two methods were similar (limit of quantification (LOQ) <1 ng/mL and percentage coefficient of variance (CV%) <16.4), and both were able to confirm unambiguously all the analytes, thus confirming the validity of both techniques.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Doping in Sports
  • Estranes / chemistry
  • Estranes / metabolism
  • Estranes / urine*
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nandrolone / chemistry
  • Nandrolone / metabolism
  • Nandrolone / urine*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Solid Phase Extraction / methods
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Estranes
  • 19-norandrosterone
  • Nandrolone