Simultaneous separation and determination of 16 testosterone and nandrolone esters in equine plasma using ultra high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry for doping control

J Chromatogr A. 2011 Jul 1;1218(26):3982-93. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2011.04.087. Epub 2011 May 6.


The potential for using testosterone and nandrolone esters in racehorses to boost the biological concentrations of these steroids and enhance athletic performance is very compelling and should be seriously considered in formulating regulatory policies for doping control. In order to regulate the use of these esters in racehorses, a sensitive and validated method is needed. In this paper, we report such a method for simultaneous separation, screening, quantification and confirmation of 16 testosterone and nandrolone esters in equine plasma by ultra high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS). Analytes were extracted from equine plasma by liquid-liquid extraction using a mixture of methyl tert-butyl ether and ethyl acetate (50:50, v/v) and separated on a sub-2 micron C(18) column. Detection of analytes was achieved on a triple-quadrupole mass spectrometer by positive electrospray ionization mode with selected reaction monitoring (SRM). Mobile phase comprised 2 mM ammonium formate and methanol. Deuterium-labeled testosterone enanthate and testosterone undecanoate were used as dual-internal standards for quantification. Limits of detection (LOD) and quantification (LOQ) were 25-100 pg/mL and 100-200 pg/mL, respectively. The linear dynamic range of quantification was 100-10,000 pg/mL. For confirmation of the presence of these analytes in equine plasma, matching of the retention time with mass spectrometric ion ratios from MS/MS product ions was used. The limit of confirmation (LOC) was 100-500 pg/mL. The method is sensitive, robust, selective and reliably reproducible.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Doping in Sports
  • Drug Stability
  • Formates / chemistry
  • Horses
  • Methanol / chemistry
  • Nandrolone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Nandrolone / blood
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Testosterone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Formates
  • formic acid
  • Testosterone
  • Nandrolone
  • Methanol