A novel UPLC/MS/MS method for rapid determination of metapristone in rat plasma, a new cancer metastasis chemopreventive agent derived from mifepristone (RU486)

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Mifepristone (RU486) is a chemical abortifacient used by hundreds of millions of women world-wide. It has recently been used in clinical trials for psychotic depression and cancer chemotherapy. Metapristone is the most predominant biological active metabolite of mifepristone, and being developed as a novel cancer metastasis chemopreventive agent based on its unique pharmacological properties. In this study, a novel rapid and sensitive method using UPLC/MS/MS was developed and validated for quantitative analysis of metapristone in plasma, which used less plasma volume and was demonstrated to be more simple and low-cost than the published methods. Metapristone in plasma was recovered by liquid–liquid extraction using 1 mL of ethyl acetate and chromatographic separation was carried on a C18 column at 35 °C, with a gradient mobile phase consisting of methanol and water containing 0.1% (v/v) formic acid at a flow rate of 0.3 mL/min. The mass spectrometric detection was carried out using a triple-quadrupole system via positive electrospray ionization. Multiple reaction monitoring was used for quantitation of m/z transitions from 416.3 to 119.9 for metapristone and from 313.1 to 109 for levonorgestrel (internal standard). Good linearity (r2 > 0.9926) was achieved over a concentration range from 7.1 to 2840 ng/mL with a lower limit of quantification of 7.1 ng/mL for metapristone. The intra- and inter-day variations of the assay were 2.4–10.0% relative standard deviation with an accuracy of −5.6 to 8.6% relative error. This newly developed method was successfully applied to a pharmacokinetic study that revealed, for the first time, that there was a significant difference in pharmacokinetic profile between genders.

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