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J Chromatogr A. 1999 Nov 19;863(1):115-22.

On-line coupling of solid-phase extraction with mass spectrometry for the analysis of biological samples. I. Determination of clenbuterol in urine.

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  • 1University Centre for Pharmacy, Department of Analytical Chemistry and Toxicology, Groningen, The Netherlands.


The potential of the direct coupling of solid-phase extraction (SPE) with mass spectrometry (MS) for the analysis of biological samples is demonstrated. For SPE a cartridge exchanger is used and the eluate is directly introduced into the mass spectrometer. This system has been investigated for the determination of clenbuterol in urine. With mixed-mode cartridges, a considerable ion suppression has been obtained. The mass spectrum at the elution time of clenbuterol is dominated by that of creatinine and adduct formation of clenbuterol and creatinine has been observed. The whole procedure including injection of 1 ml urine, washing and desorption has been developed with cartridges containing 8-microm C18-bonded silica. If only a single MS step is used, the selectivity and, therefore, the sensitivity are insufficient. The detection limit is about 100 ng/ml. However, with atmospheric pressure chemical ionisation and the tandem MS mode the detection limit has been decreased to about 2 ng/ml and the ion suppression is only about 10%. For the electrospray ionisation the detection limit is about 10-times higher and the ion suppression is less favourable. The repeatability for the SPE-MS-MS procedure was 6.5% at 10 ng/ml (n=5) and the difference between the response factors at 10 ng/ml and 100 ng/ml was only 2.5%. The MS behaviour of clenbuterol and the matrix under the present conditions is discussed.

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