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J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2011 Nov 15;879(30):3465-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2011.09.026. Epub 2011 Sep 18.

Simultaneous quantification of nicotine and metabolites in rat brain by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, United States.


A liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method for simultaneous quantification of nicotine (NIC), cotinine (COT), nornicotine (NNIC), norcotinine (NCOT), nicotine-N-β-D-glucuronide (NIC GLUC), cotinine-N-β-D-glucuronide (COT GLUC), nicotine-1'-oxide (NNO), cotinine-N-oxide (CNO), trans-3'-hydroxycotinine (3-HC), anabasine (AB) and anatabine (AT) was modified and validated for quantification of these selected analytes in rat brain tissue. This analytical method provides support for preclinical NIC pharmacokinetic and toxicological studies after controlled dosing protocols. After brain homogenization and solid-phase extraction, target analytes and corresponding deuterated internal standards were chromatographically separated on a Discovery(®) HS F5 HPLC column with gradient elution and analyzed by LC-MS/MS in positive electrospray ionization (ESI) mode with multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) data acquisition. Method linearity was assessed and calibration curves were determined over the following ranges: 0.1-7.5 ng/mg for NIC, COT GLUC and AB; and 0.025-7.5 ng/mg for COT, NNIC, NCOT, NIC GLUC, NNO, CNO, 3-HC and AT (R(2)≥0.99 for all analytes). Extraction recoveries ranged from 64% to 115%, LC-MS/MS matrix effects were ≤21%, and overall process efficiency ranged from 57% to 93% at low and high quality control concentrations. Intra- and inter-assay imprecisions and accuracy for all analytes were ≤12.9% and ≥86%, respectively. The method was successfully applied to quantification of NIC and metabolites in the brain of post-natal day 90 rats that were sacrificed 2-h after a single 0.8 mg/kg s.c. administration of (-)NIC. In these tissues, striatal concentrations were 204.8±49.4, 138.2±14.2 and 36.1±6.1 pg/mg of NIC, COT and NNIC, respectively. Concentrations of NIC, COT and NNIC in the remaining whole brain (RWhB) were 183.3±68.0, 130.0±14.1 and 46.7±10.3 pg/mg, respectively. Quantification of these same analytes in plasma was also performed by a previously validated method. NIC, COT, NNIC, NCOT, NNO and CNO were detected in plasma with concentrations comparable to those reported in previous studies. However, and in contrast to brain tissues, COT concentrations in plasma were significantly higher than were those of NIC (194.6±18.6 ng/mL versus 52.7±12.9 ng/mL). Taken together, these results demonstrate that a sensitive and selective method has been developed for the determination of NIC biomarkers in rat brain.

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