Development and validation of an HPLC-MS/MS method to quantify clopidogrel acyl glucuronide, clopidogrel acid metabolite, and clopidogrel in plasma samples avoiding analyte back-conversion

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2011 Aug;401(3):1023-34. doi: 10.1007/s00216-011-5147-4. Epub 2011 Jun 9.


A new sensitive and fast quantitative analytical method for the simultaneous determination of clopidogrel, its main metabolite clopidogrel carboxylic acid, and the newly described acyl glucuronide metabolite, in human plasma samples, is presented. The analytical procedures (plasma storage, handling, and extract storage in the autosampler) were optimized in order to avoid back-conversion; a known drawback in measurements of clopidogrel. Clopidogrel acyl glucuronide was confirmed as a major source of back-conversion to the parent drug in the presence of methanol, and thorough stability experiments were carried out to find the most appropriate conditions for an accurate analysis of clopidogrel and the two metabolites. The method was validated by assessing selectivity, sensitivity, linearity, accuracy, and precision for all three analytes, in accordance to Food and Drug Administration guidelines. Spiked quality controls in plasma as well as incurred samples were used to verify back-conversion in the selected conditions, with results meeting European Medicines Agency acceptance criteria (concentrations within 80-120% of the first reading). The method was then applied to a pharmacokinetic study, and for the first time, a pharmacokinetic curve of clopidogrel acyl glucuronide in human plasma is presented. The concentrations ranged up to 1,048.684 ng/mL, with a mean of 470.268 ng/mL, while clopidogrel had a mean C(max) of 1.348 ng/mL; these orders of magnitude show how much the back-conversion of this metabolite may influence clopidogrel quantification if it is not properly controlled.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid*
  • Clopidogrel
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry*
  • Ticlopidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Ticlopidine / blood


  • clopidogrel carboxylic acid
  • Clopidogrel
  • Ticlopidine