Development of a sensitive and selective method for the quantitative analysis of cortisol, cortisone, prednisolone and prednisone in human plasma

Document Type


Date of Original Version



A highly selective, sensitive and robust LC-MS/MS method was developed for the simultaneous quantification of cortisol, cortisone, prednisolone and prednisone in human plasma. Prednisolone, cortisol and cortisone have similar fragmentation pattern. These three compounds were chromatographically separated, thus eliminating the inherent interference that fragments derived from the M + 2 and M isotopes of prednisolone contribute in the MRM channels of cortisol and cortisone, respectively. Additionally, by using a small particle (1.8 μm) analytical column, interferences present in the plasma samples from post-transplant recipients were successfully resolved from cortisol after a simple extraction consisting of protein precipitation, evaporation and reconstitution. The chromatographic separation was achieved on a Zorbax-SB Phenyl column under isocratic conditions during a run time of 8 min. Intra-run and inter-run precision and accuracy within ±15% were achieved during a 3-run validation for quality control samples at five concentration levels in charcoal-stripped plasma as well as in normal plasma, over a 500-fold dynamic concentration range. The lower limit of quantitation was 0.500 ng/mL for cortisone and prednisone, 1.00 ng/mL for cortisol and 2.00 ng/mL for prednisolone. The performance of the small particle column was maintained during more than 1200 injections in terms of peak retention time, symmetry and backpressure. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences