Highly selective and automated online SPE LC-MS3 method for determination of cortisol and cortisone in human hair as biomarker for stress related diseases
Quinete, N.; Bertram, J.; Reska, M.; Lang, J.; Kraus, T.
Talanta 134: 310-316
ISSN/ISBN: 1873-3573 PMID: 25618673 DOI: 10.1016/j.talanta.2014.11.034
Hair analysis has been increasingly used to establish long-term biomarkers of exposure to both endogenous and exogenous substances, with a special emphasis on steroidal hormones. Hair cortisol and cortisone have been associated to physiological and psychological strains, anxiety and depression. Hair is a very complex matrix, which might jeopardize analyte detection at low concentrations. A new, highly selective and sensitive method based on fragments of second order, MS(3) (MS/MS/MS), was developed and validated for the analysis of hair cortisol and cortisone. An online solid phase extraction was performed on a C8 restricted access material (RAM) phase following by separation on a reversed-phase C18 column using methanol and 0.02% ammonium hydroxide as mobile phase. The developed method required minimal sample preparation and the injection of only 50 µL of sample leading to a LOQ of 2 pg mg(-1). Good linear responses were observed in the range 2-200 pg mg(-1) (R(2)>0.99) and extraction recoveries ranged between 77-125% and 70-123% for cortisol and cortisone, respectively. Intra- and inter-assay coefficients of variation were between 1.4 and 14%. In order to evaluate the applicability of the method, preliminary tests (N=33) were conducted in 3 cm hair samples (close to scalp) of healthy volunteers with an age range of 4-63. Average concentrations in hair were 12.7±14 pg mg(-1) and 41.6±42 pg mg(-1) for cortisol and cortisone, respectively. Further investigations on cortisol and cortisone as biomarkers for chronic psychological strain will be assessed as a next step.