In vitro metabolism studies on the selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) LG121071 and its implementation into human doping controls using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry

Eur J Mass Spectrom (Chichester). 2015;21(1):27-36. doi: 10.1255/ejms.1328.


LG121071 is a member of the tetrahydroquinolinone-based class of selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) drug candidates. These nonsteroidal compounds are supposed to act as full anabolic agents with reduced androgenic properties. As SARMs provide an alternative to anabolic androgenic steroids, they represent an emerging class of potential doping substances abused by athletes for illicit performance enhancement. According to the World Anti-Doping Agency's regulations, SARMs are banned substances and part of the Prohibited List since 2008. In consideration of the increasing number of adverse analytical findings in doping controls caused by SARMs abuse, potential drug candidates such as LG121071 have been proactively investigated to enable a timely integration into routine testing procedures even though clinical trials are not yet complete. In the present approach, the collision-induced dissociation (CID) of LG121071 was characterized by means of electrospray ionization-high resolution/high accuracy mass spectrometry, MS(n), and isotope labeling experiments. Interestingly, the even-electron precursor ion [M + H](+) at m/z 297 was found to produce a radical cation at m/z 268 under CID conditions, violating the even-electron rule that commonly applies. For doping control purposes, metabolites were generated in vitro and a detection method for urine samples based on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry was established. The overall metabolic conversion of LG121071 was modest, yielding primarily mono-, bis- and trishydroxylated species. Notable, however, was the identification of a glucuronic acid conjugate of the intact drug, attributed to an N-glucuronide structure. The sample preparation procedure included the enzymatic hydrolysis of glucuronides prior to liquid-liquid extraction, allowing intact LG121071 to be measured, as well as the corresponding phase-I metabolites. The method was characterized concerning inter alia lower limit of detection (0.5 ng mL(-1) in urine), recovery (40%), and intra-/interday precision (2.3% to 11.7%) to assess its fitness for purpose. Prospectively, the assay can serve as detection method for LG121071 in drug testing and/or doping controls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / pharmacokinetics*
  • Androgens / urine*
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Microsomes / metabolism*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*


  • Androgens