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A broad-spectrum equine urine screening method for free and enzyme-hydrolysed conjugated drugs with ultra performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry

Wong, Colton H.F., Tang, Francis P.W., Wan, Terence S.M.
Analytica chimica acta 2011 v.697 no.1-2 pp. 48-60
adrenal cortex hormones, anabolic steroids, beta-glucuronidase, detection limit, diuretics, horses, hydrolysis, ionization, labor, prostaglandin synthase, screening, sedatives, solid phase extraction, sulfur, tandem mass spectrometry, ultra-performance liquid chromatography, urine, xanthines
The authors’ laboratory at one time employed four liquid chromatography/mass spectrometric (LC/MS) methods for the detection of a large variety of drugs in equine urine. Drug classes covered by these methods included anti-diabetics, anti-ulcers, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors, sedatives, corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, sulfur diuretics, xanthines, etc. With the objective to reduce labour and instrumental workload, a new ultra performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometric (UPLC/MS/MS) method has been developed, which encompasses all target analytes detected by the original four LC/MS methods. The new method has better detection limits than the superseded methods. In addition, it covers new target analytes that could not be adequately detected by the four LC/MS methods. The new method involves solid-phase extraction (SPE) of two aliquots of equine urine using two Abs Elut Nexus cartridges. One aliquot of the urine sample is treated with β-glucuronidase before subjecting to SPE. A second aliquot of the same urine sample is processed directly using another SPE cartridge, so that drugs that are prone to decomposition during enzyme hydrolysis can be preserved. The combined eluate is analysed by UPLC/MS/MS using alternating positive and negative electrospray ionisation in the selected-reaction-monitoring mode. Exceptional chromatographic separation is achieved using an UPLC system equipped with a UPLC® BEH C18 column (10cmL×2.1mm ID with 1.7μm particles). With this newly developed UPLC/MS/MS method, the simultaneous detection of 140 drugs at ppb to sub-ppb levels in equine urine can be achieved in less than 13min inclusive of post-run equilibration. Matrix interference for the selected transitions at the expected retention times is minimised by the excellent UPLC chromatographic separation. The method has been validated for recovery and precision, and is being used regularly in the authors’ laboratory as an important component of the array of screening methods for doping control analyses of equine urine samples.