A simple and highly sensitive on-line column extraction liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method for the determination of protein-unbound tacrolimus in human plasma samples

Heike Bittersohl, Björn Schniedewind, Uwe Christians, Peter B. Luppa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) of the immunosuppressive drug tacrolimus is essential to avoid side effects and rejection of the allograft after transplantation. In the blood circulation, tacrolimus is largely located inside erythrocytes or bound to plasma proteins and less than 0.1% is protein-unbound (free). One basic principle of clinical pharmacology is that only free drug is pharmacologically active and monitoring this portion has the potential to better reflect the drug effect than conventional measurements of total tacrolimus in whole blood. To address this, a highly sensitive and straightforward on-line liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) method was developed, validated and applied to patient plasma samples. The sample preparation included ultracentrifugation and addition of the stable isotope labeled drug analogue D2,13C-tacrolimus, followed by on-line sample extraction and measurement using a Sciex QTRAP® 6500 in the multiple reaction monitoring mode. Due to very low concentrations of protein-unbound tacrolimus, it was important to develop a highly sensitive, precise and accurate assay. Here, we first report the efficient formation of tacrolimus lithium adduct ions, which greatly increased assay sensitivity. A lower limit of quantification (LLOQ) of 1 pg/mL (10 fg on column) was achieved and the assay was linear between 1 and 200 pg/mL. There was no carry-over detected. The inaccuracy ranged from −9.8 to 7.4% and the greatest imprecision was 7.5%. The matrix factor was found to be smaller than 1.1%. In summary, this method represents a suitable tool to investigate the potential clinical value of free tacrolimus monitoring in organ transplant recipients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Volume1547
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Apr 2018

Keywords

  • Immunosuppressant
  • LC–MS/MS
  • On-line column extraction
  • Tacrolimus
  • Therapeutic drug monitoring
  • Ultracentrifugation

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