Determination of camptothecin in biological fluids using reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection

J Chromatogr. 1990 Sep 14;530(2):367-76. doi: 10.1016/s0378-4347(00)82339-7.


Camptothecin, a plant alkaloid with antitumor activity, is a potent and rapidly acting inhibitor of DNA synthesis. The objective of this study was to develop a sensitive high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) method for the detection and estimation of the camptothecin concentration in biological fluids. Using HPLC coupled with fluorescence detection, at an excitation wavelength of 370 nm and an emission wavelength of 434 nm, we found that the lower limits of detection for camptothecin in aqueous, plasma and urine samples were 0.5, 1 and 10 ng/ml, respectively. The ideal mobile phase used was methanol-10 mM potassium phosphate (75:25, v/v, pH 4.0). To determine the utilization of the method in a biological system, we studied the pharmacokinetics of camptothecin in mice. Elimination of camptothecin from mice blood was triphasic and followed first-order kinetics. The half-life of camptothecin in mouse blood was 25.7 min. Our studies indicate that HPLC with fluorescence detection for the determination of camptothecin in different media is a simple, rapid, sensitive and reproducible method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Camptothecin / analysis*
  • Camptothecin / pharmacokinetics
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Solutions
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet


  • Solutions
  • Camptothecin