Doping control analysis of trenbolone and related compounds using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry

Mario Thevis, Sven Guddat, Wilhelm Schänzer
Steroids 2009, 74 (3): 315-21
Trenbolone (17beta-hydroxy-estra-4,9,11-trien-3-one) and its derivatives such as 17alpha-methyltrenbolone represent a class of highly potent anabolic-androgenic steroids, which are prohibited in sports according to the regulation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Due to marginal gas chromatographic properties of these compounds but excellent proton affinities resulting from a large and conjugated pi-electron system, liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) has been the method of choice for the detection of these analytes in sports drug testing. Recent findings of trenbolone and methyltrenbolone in doping control urine samples of elite athletes demonstrated the importance of a sensitive and robust analytical method, which was based on an enzymatic hydrolysis of target compounds, liquid-liquid extraction and subsequent LC-MS/MS measurement. Diagnostic product ions obtained after collision-induced dissociation of protonated molecules were found at m/z 227, 211, 199 and 198, which enabled targeted screening using multiple reaction monitoring. Using 7 model compounds (trenbolone, epitrenbolone, methyltrenbolone, ethyltrenbolone, propyltrenbolone, 17-ketotrenbolone and altrenogest), the established method was validated for specificity, lower limits of detection (0.3-3ng/mL), recovery (72-105%), intraday and interday precision (< or =20%).

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