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Determination of testosterone in saliva and blow of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.

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Australian Marine Mammal Research Centre, Zoological Parks Board of NSW, University of Sydney, P.O. Box 20, Mosman, NSW, 2088, Australia.


A rapid, accurate and reproducible assay utilising high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) has been developed and validated for determining testosterone concentrations in saliva and blow of bottlenose dolphins. Sample preparation used solid phase extraction with specific preconditioning of cartridges. Analytes were eluted with 100% acetonitrile, dried under nitrogen and stored at -80 degrees C. Samples were reconstituted in 60% acetonitrile for LC-MS analysis. Chromatographic separation was achieved with an Alltech Macrosphere C8 stainless steel analytical column (2.1 mm x 150 mm i.d., 5 microm particle size, 300 angstroms pore size) using a 55% mobile phase B isocratic method (mobile phase A = 0.5% acetic acid; mobile phase B = 0.5% acetic acid, 90% acetonitrile). Samples were analysed in SIM at m/z 289.20 (testosterone mw 288.40) and a positive ion ESI. The limit of quantification was 0.5 ng/ml with a limit of detection of 0.2 ng/ml. The concentration curve was linear from 0.5 to 50 ng/ml (y = 0.01x + 0.0045, r(2) = 0.959, r = 0.979, p < 0.001). The R.S.D.s of intra- and inter-batch precision were less than 15% for saliva and 11% blow. Recovery of the assay for saliva was 93.0 +/- 7.9% (50 ng/ml) and 91.5 +/- 3.72% (1 ng/ml), and for blow was 83.3 +/- 6.8% (50 ng/ml) and 85.8 +/- 4.6% (1 ng/ml). Recovery of the internal standard in saliva was 73.0 +/- 14.2% and in blow was 78.63 +/- 4.29. The described assay was used to determine the presence of endogenous testosterone in saliva (9.73-23 ng/ml, n = 10) and blow (14.71-86.20 ng/ml, n = 11) samples of captive bottlenose dolphins.

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