Clinical steroid mass spectrometry: a 45-year history culminating in HPLC-MS/MS becoming an essential tool for patient diagnosis.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Automated rapid HPLC tandem mass spectrometry has become the method of choice for clinical steroid analysis. It is replacing immunoassay techniques in most instances because it has high sensitivity, better reproducibility, greater specificity and can be used to analyze multiple steroids simultaneously. Modern multiplex instruments can analyze thousands of samples per month so even with high instrument costs the price of individual assays can be affordable. The mass spectrometry of steroids goes back decades; the first on-line chromatography/mass spectrometry methods for hormone analysis date to the 1960s. This paper reviews the evolution of mass spectrometric techniques applied to sterol and steroid measurement There have been three eras: (1) gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS), (2) Fast Atom Bombardment (FAB) and (3) HPLC/MS. The first technique is only suitable for unconjugated steroids, the second for conjugated, and the third equally useful for free or conjugated. FAB transformed biological mass spectrometry in the 1980s but in the end was an interim technique; GC/MS retains unique qualities but is unsuited to commercial routine analysis, while LC-MS/MS is rightly stealing the show and has become the dominant method for steroid analysis in endocrinology.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-90
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Volume121
Issue number3-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2010

Keywords

  • Steroid mass spectrometry, HPLC-MS/MS, Steroid analysis