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Br J Biomed Sci. 2014;71(1):33-9.

Evaluation of tamoxifen and metabolites by LC-MS/MS and HPLC methods.


Epidemiological and laboratory evidence suggests that quantification of serum or plasma levels of tamoxifen and its metabolites, 4-hydroxy-N-desmethyl-tamoxifen (endoxifen), Z-4-hydroxytamoxifen (4HT), N-desmethyl-tamoxifen (ND-tam), is a clinically useful tool in the assessment and monitoring of breast cancer status in patients taking adjuvant tamoxifen. A liquid chromatographic mass spectrometric method (LC-MS/MS) was used to measure the blood levels of tamoxifen and its metabolites. This fully automated analytical method is specific, accurate and sensitive. The LC-MS/MS automated technique has now become a widely accepted reference method. This study analysed a randomly selected batch of blood samples from participants enrolled in a breast cancer study to compare results from this reference method in 40 samples with those obtained from a recently developed high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method with fluorescence detection. The mean (SD) concentrations for the LC-MS/MS method (endoxifen 12.6 [7.5] ng/mL, tamoxifen 105 [44] ng/mL, 4-HT 1.9 [1.0] ng/mL, ND-tam 181 [69] ng/mL) and the HPLC method (endoxifen 13.1 [7.8] ng/mL, tamoxifen 108 [55] ng/mL, 4-HT 1.8 [0.8] ng/mL, ND-tam 184 [81] ng/mL) did not show any significant differences. The results confirm that the HPLC method offers an accurate and comparable alternative for the quantification of tamoxifen and tamoxifen metabolites.

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