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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2013 Jan;405(2-3):907-16. doi: 10.1007/s00216-012-6269-z. Epub 2012 Jul 29.

Simultaneous determination of sixteen underivatized biogenic amines in human urine by HPLC-MS/MS.

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Department of Science and Technological Innovation, University of Piemonte Orientale, Alessandria, Italy.


The broad group of biogenic amines includes polyamines and catecholamines, whose presence in human tissues and biological fluids can give important diagnostic information and act as marker of many pathologies. In particular, polyamines are involved in cancer cell growth while catecholamines act as neurotransmitters and hormones. Their simultaneous determination in biological tissues and fluids is therefore an important task. A high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method is presented here for the simultaneous determination in urine of 16 biogenic amines: adrenaline (epinephrine), agmatine, cadaverine, dopamine, histamine, 3-methoxytyramine, noradrenaline (norepinephrine), norephedrine, octopamine, 2-phenylethylamine, putrescine, serotonin, spermidine, spermine, tryptamine, and tyramine. The method does not require any derivatization step. To guarantee the maximum of sensitivity, the mass spectrometer works in selected reaction monitoring mode, monitoring for each analyte the two most intensive transitions. Method validation includes the evaluation of limits of detection (that range from 0.3 to 6.6 μg L(-1)), limits of quantitation (that range from 1.0 to 21.9 μg L(-1)), linearity range (three orders of magnitude), recovery, intra- and inter-day precision on both concentration, and retention time. Recovery (R) is shown not to depend on the analyte concentration: the average R percent ranges from 72.9 to 100.0 %. Particular attention is devoted to the matrix effect and the correlated phenomena of ion enhancement or suppression in mass spectrometry detection.

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