A highly selective and sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) assay has been described for the determination of asenapine (ASE) in presence of its inactive metabolites N-desmethyl asenapine (DMA) and asenapine-N-glucuronide (ASG). ASE, and ASE 13C-d3, used as internal standard (IS), were extracted from 300 µL human plasma by a simple and precise liquid-liquid extraction procedure using methyl tert-butyl ether. Baseline separation of ASE from its inactive metabolites was achieved on Chromolith Performance RP8e (100 mm × 4.6 mm) column using acetonitrile-5.0 mM ammonium acetate-10% formic acid (90:10:0.1, v/v/v) within 4.5 min. Quantitation of ASE was done on a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer equipped with electrospray ionization in the positive mode. The protonated precursor to product ion transitions monitored for ASE and ASE 13C-d3 were m/z 286.1 → 166.0 and m/z 290.0 → 166.1, respectively. The limit of detection (LOD) and limit of quantitation (LOQ) of the method were 0.0025 ng/mL and 0.050 ng/mL respectively in a linear concentration range of 0.050-20.0 ng/mL for ASE. The intra-batch and inter-batch precision (% CV) and mean relative recovery across quality control levels were ≤ 5.8% and 87.3%, respectively. Matrix effect, evaluated as IS-normalized matrix factor, ranged from 1.03 to 1.05. The stability of ASE under different storage conditions was ascertained in presence of the metabolites. The developed method is much simpler, matrix free, rapid and economical compared to the existing methods. The method was successfully used for a bioequivalence study of asenapine in healthy Indian subjects for the first time.
Keywords: Asenapine; Asenapine 13C-d3; Bioequivalence study; Human plasma; LC-MS/MS; Metabolites.