[Mass spectrometry for steroid assays]

Ann Biol Clin (Paris). 2015 Jan-Feb;73(1):70-8. doi: 10.1684/abc.2014.0988.
[Article in French]


Steroid hormone measurement, first developed with radioimmunoassay, is now becoming easier with the use of automated platforms of immunoassay. However, some hormones remain uneasily detectable because of their low blood concentration, their structural homology or the presence of interferences. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) can be considered as an alternative to immunoassays. This approach allows the simultaneous determination of several parameters thanks to its selectivity led by the detector mass spectrometer and the separate dimension of chromatography liquid. In addition, recourse to UHPLC (ultra high performance liquid chromatography) allows improving selectivity and sensitivity while limiting the samples volumes. The "ready-to-use" kits are now available and added to the "homemade" techniques developed by laboratories, thus giving opportunity for measurement of a wide steroid panel with only one sample. Finally, mass spectrometry methods, including a prior extraction step, allow the use of varied biological fluids (blood, urine, saliva…). Also, several clinical indications could gain from mass spectrometry, especially when hormone levels are low, when several steroids have to be identified, when the sample volume is low. However, this technology represents an important financial investment and in-depth staff training. In addition, some steroids are not easily quantifiable by mass spectrometry. It is likely by immunoassay and mass spectrometry, well-matched technologies, that we could answer the best to clinical questions about steroids.

Keywords: 11-deoxycortisol; 17-hydroxyprogesterone; LC-MS/MS; cortisol; testosterone.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 17-alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone / analysis
  • 17-alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone / blood
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cortodoxone / analysis
  • Cortodoxone / blood
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / analysis
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Steroids / analysis*
  • Steroids / blood
  • Testosterone / analysis
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Steroids
  • Testosterone
  • 17-alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone
  • Cortodoxone
  • Hydrocortisone