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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2011 Jun;400(8):2655-62. doi: 10.1007/s00216-011-4790-0. Epub 2011 Feb 26.

An ultra-sensitive online SPE-LC-MS/MS method for the quantification of levonorgestrel released from intrauterine devices.

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Division of Mass Spectrometry and Chromatography, Institute of Medical and Chemical Laboratory Diagnostics (ZIMCL), University Hospital Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.


A selective and sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method for the determination of very low levonorgestrel (D-(-)-norgestrel) serum levels such as those found in patients using levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine devices (IUDs) was developed. To achieve the sub-nanomolar sensitivity needed to measure such serum levels, a diethyl ether extraction sample preparation protocol was applied prior to the online solid-phase extraction-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (SPE-LC-MS/MS) assay. Analyte quantification from the selected reaction monitoring experiments relied on the use of sixfold deuterated norgestrel as internal standard. The final method was linear up to 1.50 ng/ml with a lower limit of quantification (LLOQ) of 0.05 ng/ml. It was found to be precise and accurate with imprecision <8% and bias <6% assessed at three control levels. Total analyte recovery measured in patient pools at three concentration levels was found to exceed 92%. Matrix interferences were excluded by post-column analyte infusion experiments. As a proof of concept, a set of IUD patient serum samples was screened for their levonorgestrel content. A total of 97.5% (nā€‰=ā€‰94) of the samples did show serum levels exceeding the LLOQ, proving the applicability of the assay in relevant clinical cohorts. This method must not be used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, since it did not undergo formal performance evaluation in the sense of the in vitro diagnostic directive (98/79/EG) of the European community.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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