Screening for anabolic steroids in sports: analytical strategy based on the detection of phase I and phase II intact urinary metabolites by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry

Georgina Balcells, Oscar J Pozo, Argitxu Esquivel, Aristotelis Kotronoulas, Jesús Joglar, Jordi Segura, Rosa Ventura
Journal of Chromatography. A 2015 April 10, 1389: 65-75
In order to improve the detection capabilities of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) in sports, a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) screening method for the simultaneous detection of AAS phase I and phase II intact urinary metabolites (glucuronides and sulfates) was developed. A total of 36 metabolites (7 unconjugated; 19 glucuronides and 10 sulfates) corresponding to 15 of the most reported AAS were included. Analytes were extracted from urine using C18 cartridges. LC and MS conditions were studied in-depth to determine the most sensitive and selective conditions for each analyte. A selected reaction monitoring method was set up. The optimization of the experimental parameters for 13 metabolites not available as standards was performed using excretion study urines. Extraction recoveries were above 77% for all 23 validated analytes. Intra-day precision was lower than 21%, and LODs were in the range 0.25-4ng/mL for 18 of the 23 analytes. Matrix effect was evaluated using post column infusion and ranged from 92 to 147%. The method was successfully applied to excretion study urines of different exogenous AAS. The suitability of the strategy was demonstrated with methyltestosterone and stanozolol excretion study urines by achieving detection times of 22 and 21 days, respectively. The method is compliant with the World Antidoping Agency requirements for most of the studied compounds. It represents a cost-effective approach that improves the detection capabilities of AAS by increasing the sensitivity for some metabolites and by including recently described phase II long-term metabolites not detectable using the current screening strategy.

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