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Steroids. 2005 Dec 1;70(13):879-85. Epub 2005 Jul 22.

A high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry assay of the androgenic neurosteroid 3alpha-androstanediol (5alpha-androstane-3alpha,17beta-diol) in plasma.

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Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, North Carolina State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, 4700 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA.


The testosterone metabolite 3alpha-androstanediol (5alpha-androstane-3alpha,17-diol) is a potential GABA(A) receptor-modulating neurosteroid with anticonvulsant properties and hence could act as a key neuromodulator in the central nervous system. However, there is no specific and sensitive assay for quantitative determination of the androgenic neurosteroid 3alpha-androstanediol in biological samples. We have established a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS) assay to measure 3alpha-androstanediol in rat plasma. Standard 3alpha-androstanediol added to rat plasma has been successfully analysed with excellent linearity, specificity, sensitivity, and reproducibility. The sensitivity of the method was < 10 ng/ml with a detection limit of 2 ng/ml (6.8 nmol/l) and a linear range of 10-2000 ng/ml. The method was used for the analysis of testosterone-induced increase in plasma 3alpha-androstanediol levels in rats. Testosterone produced a dose-dependent elevation in plasma 3alpha-androstanediol, which was almost completely prevented by pretreatment with the 5alpha-reductase inhibitor finasteride, indicating that 3alpha-androstanediol is synthesized from testosterone via a 5alpha-reductase pathway. This LC-MS-MS method allows accurate, high-throughput analysis of 3alpha-androstanediol in small amounts (200 microl) of plasma and possibly other biological samples.

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