Simultaneous assay of morphine, morphine-3-glucuronide and morphine-6-glucuronide in human plasma using normal-phase liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry with a silica column and an aqueous organic mobile phase.J Chromatogr B Biomed Sci Appl. 1999 Dec 10; 735(2):255-69.JC
Morphine (MOR) is an opioid analgesic used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. MOR is extensively metabolized to morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G) and morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G). A rapid and sensitive method that was able to reliably detect at least 0.5 ng/ml of MOR and 1.0 ng/ml of M6G was required to define their pharmacokinetic profiles. An LC-MS-MS method was developed in our laboratory to quantify all three analytes with the required sensitivity and a rapid turnaround time. A solid-phase extraction (SPE) was used to isolate MOR, M3G, M6G, and their corresponding deuterated internal standards from heparinized plasma. The extract was injected on a LC tandem mass spectrometer with a turbo ion-spray interface. Baseline chromatographic separation among MOR, M3G, and M6G peaks was achieved on a silica column with an aqueous organic mobile phase consisting of formic acid, water, and acetonitrile. The total chromatographic run time was 3 min per injection, with retention times of 1.5, 1.9 and 2.4 min for MOR, M6G, and M3G, respectively. Chromatographic separation of M3G and M6G from MOR was paramount in establishing the LC-MS-MS method selectivity because of fragmentation of M3G and M6G to MOR at the LC-MS interface. The standard curve range in plasma was 0.5-50 ng/ml for MOR, 1.0-100 ng/ml for M6G, and 10-1000 ng/ml for M3G. The inter-day precision and accuracy of the quality control (QC) samples were <7% relative standard deviation (RSD) and <6% relative error (R.E.) for MOR, <9% RSD and <5% R.E. for M6G, and <3% RSD and <6% R.E. for M3G. Analyte stability during sample processing and storage were established. Method ruggedness was demonstrated by the reproducible performance from multiple analysts using several LC-MS-MS systems to analyze over one thousand samples from clinical trials.