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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2013 Oct;405(26):8569-77. doi: 10.1007/s00216-013-7259-5. Epub 2013 Jul 28.

Sensitive routine liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method for serum estradiol and estrone without derivatization.

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  • 1Clinical Department of Laboratory Medicine, University Hospitals Leuven, Herestraat 49, 3000, Leuven, Belgium, steven.pauwels@uzleuven.be.


The need for a routinely applicable assay to measure low estradiol levels in adult men, postmenopausal women, and young adolescents was recently discussed in an Endocrine Society position statement. Our aim was to develop a sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method for estradiol and estrone in human serum without the need for derivatization or extended extraction protocols. After protein precipitation of serum with a mixture of methanol/acetonitrile (85/15) (v/v) containing isotopic internal standards (17β-estradiol-16,16,17-d 3 and estrone-2,3,4-(13)C), we quantified estradiol and estrone by two-dimensional liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry with electrospray ionization in the negative mode monitoring 5 × 271.20→145.00 (17β-estradiol) and 269.20→145.00 (estrone). Sensitivity was increased by using fluoride and summation of 5 identical transitions for estradiol. Our method was analytically validated, compared against direct immunoassays using serum of 25 adult men, and clinically tested by measuring samples of 3 men at baseline and after chemical castration, 30 postmenopausal women and 15 patients receiving aromatase inhibitors. Total imprecision was below 20% for the low quality controls. Limit of quantification was 1.3 ng/L (4.8 pmol/L) for estradiol and 1.2 ng/L (4.4 pmol/L) for estrone. Estradiol in Certified Reference Material BCR-576 was within specified uncertainty limits. No significant ion suppression or interference was observed. Our method showed modest correlation with direct immunoassay for estradiol (r(2) = 0.64) but no correlation for estrone (r(2) = 0.12). Patient sample results were within expected ranges. In conclusion, we developed a routinely applicable liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method for estradiol and estrone measurement which is sensitive enough for use in men, postmenopausal women, and young adolescents.

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