Journal of analytical toxicology

Isotopic analogues as internal standards for quantitative analyses of drugs and metabolites by GC-MS--nonlinear calibration approaches.

PMID 11327350


In order to achieve accurate quantitation of drugs and metabolites (analytes) in complex matrices, 2H- (and less commonly 13C-) labeled analogues of the analytes are now routinely adapted as the internal standards (IS) using linear calibration models to fit data generated by selected ion monitoring gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) protocols. In this study, the effects of cross-contribution (contribution of the IS to the intensity of the ion designated for the analyte and vice versa) on the linearity of the calibration data are examined. Nonlinear approaches that may address this problem are also studied. Two ion pairs (one with least and one with significant cross-contribution) from each of the following analyte/IS pairs are used as the exemplar systems for this study: butalbital/13C4-butalbital, butalbital/2H5-butalbital, secobarbital/13C4-secobarbital, and secobarbital/2H5-secobarbital. Analyte/IS ion intensity ratios of a series of standard solutions are correlated with the analyte/IS concentration ratios using one-point, multiple-point (unweighted and weighted) linear, and hyperbolic functions. The one-point calibration approach produces excellent calibration results in treating data derived from ion pairs with no significant cross contribution. In cases where significant cross-contribution exists, results derived from the one-point approach show, as expected, significant deviations at both ends of the concentration range. With the cross-contribution phenomenon accounted for, the hyperbolic calibration model is clearly more effective in fitting calibration data at both the lower and higher analyte concentration ends, thus significantly lowering the detection limit and extending the calibration range to a higher level. However, the calibration range cannot be extended indefinitely. At the low concentration end, noise-to-signal ratio and the cross-contribution of the IS to the intensity of the ion designated for the analyte, however insignificant, will incrementally reduce the quality of the observed ion intensity and intensity ratio data. At the high concentration end, detection saturation and the cross-contribution of the analyte to the intensity of the ion designated for the IS, however insignificant, will incrementally decrease the "slope" of the calibration curve. Thus, acceptable sensitivity (increase in analyte/IS ion-pair intensity ratio per unit increase in analyte concentration) of the calibration curve will become the limiting factor.

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Secobarbital, analytical standard