Strategies to improve the sensitivity in capillary electrophoresis for the analysis of drugs in biological fluids.Electrophoresis. 2000 Mar; 21(4):691-8.E
Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is a useful method to quantify drugs in biological fluids. However, especially for blood or plasma samples, the sensitivity is not sufficient to quantify drugs and their metabolites as they often need to be quantified in the lower microg/L range. To overcome this limitation and to increase the sensitivity, two strategies are applied: first, to increase the amount of analyte added to the capillary and, second, to increase the sensitivity on the detector site. To improve the sensitivity on the detector site, alternative detection techniques to UV detection, e.g., laser-induced fluorescence detection (LIF) or mass spectroscopy (MS), can be applied. However, LIF detection can only be used for fluorescent analytes and the current equipment for CE-MS coupling provides only small improvements in sensitivity compared to UV detection. The detection window for UV detection can be enhanced using capillaries with an extended light path (bubble cell) or Z-shaped capillaries. Sensitivity improvements up to a factor of 10 have been reported. Increasing the amount of analyte in the capillary can be done either by chromatographic or by electrokinetic methods. Chromatographic methods such as on-capillary membrane preconcentration have been used for several analytes. However, no validated application has been reported to date. In contrast, several validated examples can be found in which electrokinetic techniques like sample stacking have been applied to achieve limits of quantification in the lower microg/L range. In conclusion, to date, electrokinetic techniques such as field-amplified sample injection offer the most promising results in achieving a sufficient sensitivity to quantify drugs in biological fluids.