A highly sensitive LC-tandem MS assay for the measurement in plasma and in urine of salbutamol administered by nebulization during mechanical ventilation in healthy volunteers

Biomed Chromatogr. 2012 May;26(5):672-80. doi: 10.1002/bmc.1718. Epub 2011 Oct 24.


The new-generation nebulizers are commonly used for the administration of salbutamol in mechanically ventilated patients. The different modes of administration and new devices have not been compared. We developed a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method for the determination of concentrations as low as 0.05 ng/mL of salbutamol, corresponding to the desired plasma concentration after inhalation. Salbutamol quantification was performed by reverse-phase HPLC. Analyte quantification was performed by electrospray ionization-triple quadrupole mass spectrometry using selected reaction monitoring detection ESI in the positive mode. The method was validated over concentrations ranging from 0.05 to 100 ng/mL in plasma and from 0.18 to 135 ng/mL in urine. The method is precise, with mean inter-day coefficient of variation (CV%) within 3.1-8.3% in plasma and 1.3-3.9% in urine, as well as accurate. The proposed method was found to reach the required sensitivity for the evaluation of different nebulizers as well as nebulization modes. The present assay was applied to examine whether salbutamol urine levels, normalized with the creatinine levels, correlated with the plasma concentrations. A suitable, convenient and noninvasive method of monitoring patients receiving salbutamol by mechanical ventilation could be implemented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Albuterol / administration & dosage
  • Albuterol / blood*
  • Albuterol / urine*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Drug Stability
  • Humans
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Albuterol