Silica stationary phase-based on-line sample enrichment coupled with LC-MS/MS for the quantification of dopamine, serotonin and their metabolites in rat brain microdialysates

Anal Chim Acta. 2016 Jun 7;923:55-65. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2016.03.021. Epub 2016 Mar 23.


Accurate measurement of trace levels of endogenous compounds remains challenging despite advancements in analytical technologies. In particular, monoamine neurotransmitters such as dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5-HT) are polar compounds with low molecular weights, which complicates the optimization of retention and detection on liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Microdialysis is an important sampling technique to collect extracellular fluid from the brain of living animals. However, the very low basal concentrations of the neurotransmitters, small sample volume (maximum 30 μL) and the absence of matrix-matching calibrators are limitations of a microdialysate as an analytical sample. In the present study, an LC-MS/MS method was developed and fully validated for the quantification of DA, 5-HT and their main metabolites, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), homovanillic acid (HVA) and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), in microdialysates from the rat nucleus accumbens shell. To improve the method sensitivity and accuracy, on-line sample enrichment using silica stationary phase was employed, before which any other sample pretreatment was not performed. The validation results proved the method to be selective, sensitive, accurate and precise, with acceptable linearity within calibration ranges. The lower limits of quantification were 0.025, 0.1, 0.5, 25 and 2.5 ng/mL for 5-HT, DA, 5-HIAA, HVA and DOPAC, respectively. This is a powerful analytical method to determine endogenous concentrations of those compounds in microdialysates from the rat nucleus accumbens and will be very useful to further study on the pathophysiological functions of monoamine neurotramsmitters in vivo.

Keywords: Dopamine; LC-MS/MS; Microdialysis; On-line sample enrichment; Serotonin.