Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry

Sensitive quantification of clozapine and its main metabolites norclozapine and clozapine-N-oxide in serum and urine using LC-MS/MS after simple liquid-liquid extraction work-up.

PMID 21394453


An LC-MS/MS method for the determination of the atypic neuroleptic clozapine and its two main metabolites norclozapine and clozapine-N-oxide has been developed and validated for serum and urine. After addition of d4-clozapine as deuterated internal standard a fast single-step liquid-liquid extraction under alkaline conditions and with ethyl acetate as organic solvent followed. The analytes were chromatographically separated on a Synergi Polar RP column using gradient elution with 1 mM ammonium formate and methanol. Data acquisition was performed on a QTrap 2000 tandem mass spectrometer in multiple reaction monitoring mode with positive electrospray ionization. Two transitions were monitored for each analyte in order to fulfill the established identification criteria. The validation included the determination of the limits of quantification (1.0 ng/mL for all analytes in serum and 2.0 ng/mL for all analytes in urine), assessment of matrix effects (77% to 92% in serum, 21 to 78% in urine) and the determination of extraction efficiencies (52% to 85% for serum, 59% to 88% for urine) and accuracy data. Imprecision was <10%, only the quantification of norclozapine in urine yielded higher relative standard deviations (11.2% and 15.7%). Bias values were below ±10%. Dilution of samples had no impact on the correctness for clozapine and norclozapine in both matrices and for clozapine-N-oxide in serum. For quantification of clozapine-N-oxide in urine a calibration with diluted calibrators has to be used. Calibration curves were measured from the LOQ up to 2,000 ng/mL and proved to be linear over the whole range with regression coefficients higher than 0.98. The method was finally applied to several clinical serum and urine samples and a cerebro-spinal fluid sample of an intoxicated 13-month-old girl.