Whole blood microsampling for the quantitation of estetrol without derivatization by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry

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Quantitative bioanalysis and especially pharmacokinetic studies are challenging since only low volumes of biological material are available and low concentrations (ng/ml) are often expected. In this context, volumetric absorptive microsampling (VAMS) devices were developed to accurately collect 10 or 20 μl of whole blood from tested subjects. In this study, we present the development and validation of ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry method after VAMS sampling for the quantitation of estetrol (E4), a potentially new medicine for hormone replacement, contraception and osteoporosis therapies. Interestingly, a very simple sample preparation procedure was developed without any derivatization step. Even if lack of sensitivity is a common consideration when using negative ionization mode, we demonstrated in this work that an excellent sensitivity could be reached by carefully optimizing the nature and concentration of the mobile phase additive. After the optimization of every experimental parameter, the stability, selectivity, trueness, precision and accuracy of the final method were successfully demonstrated. In addition, the excellent performances of the method were confirmed by two independent proof-of-concept pharmacokinetic studies of E4 after VAMS collection in a murine model.Graphical abstractHighlightsA UHPLC–MS/MS method is proposed for the analysis of estetrol without derivatization.NH4F as LC additive is used to reach needed sensitivity in negative mode.An innovative microsampling technique is used to collect 10 μl of blood from mice.The method was successfully validated for the quantitation of estetrol.A pharmacokinetic study is performed as proof-of-concept.

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