Determination of cortisol production rates with contemporary liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to measure cortisol-d(3) dilution after infusion of deuterated tracer.
OBJECTIVES Measurement of 24-h cortisol production rate (CPR) using steady-state infusion of deuterated cortisol and analysis of stable-isotope dilution by MS is a valuable tool to examine hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in humans. We have developed and validated an improved method for measuring cortisol dilution with contemporary LC-MS technology. DESIGN AND METHODS Plasma samples and calibrators were extracted with ethylacetate. LC-MS was performed with a Surveyor HPLC and TSQ Quantum triple-quadrupole mass spectrometer equipped with an atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) source. RESULTS Selectivity was improved over previous methods via elimination of an interferent identified as 20β-dihydrocortisol. The LLOQ for cortisol-d(3) was 2.73nmol/L and LOD 1.37nmol/L. Plasma calibrators were linear over the concentration range 1.5-10% cortisol-d(3), with correlation coefficients >0.995. CONCLUSIONS This APCI LC-MS method offers simplified sample work-up and analysis and enables selective detection of the low concentration of cortisol-d(3) infused for determination of 24-h CPR.