Enhancing the sensitivity of the LC-MS/MS detection of propofol in urine and blood by azo-coupling derivatization.


Propofol is a low-polarity, volatile molecule that is difficult for an electrospray ion source (ESI) to ionize in either negative ion mode (NIM) or positive ion mode (PIM), which hampers its detection via liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. The aim of the present study was to use a new derivatization agent to improve ionization efficiency and to develop an efficient liquid chromatography-multiple mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) determination of propofol in urine and blood, taking advantage of an electrophilic aromatic substitution. An azo-coupling reaction with a diazonium salt from aniline was performed to introduce a protonation site into the molecule. The diazonium salt was generated by aniline in water solution by HCl and sodium nitrite; derivatization was achieved by stirring a mixture of the diazonium salt and propofol in sodium hydroxide solution for 30 min below 5 °C. A liquid-liquid extraction with dichloromethane and ethyl acetate was performed to obtain the azo derivative (molecular composition: C18H22ON2; molecular weight: 282 Da) in high yield. The compound provided very high ionization yields in both PIM and NIM ESI, and the protonated or deprotonated molecule gave intense signals. The transitions m/z 283 → 77, 241 and m/z 281 → 176, 161 were chosen for the PIM and NIM, respectively, in order to develop quantitative methods of detecting propofol in urine and blood via triple-quadrupole LC-MS/MS. These methods proved to be highly sensitive, with limits of quantification of 0.4 pg/mL and 0.1 ng/mL obtained in the NIM when analyzing 1 mL of urine and 100 μL of blood, respectively.

DOI: 10.1007/s00216-013-7573-y

Cite this paper

@article{Vaiano2014EnhancingTS, title={Enhancing the sensitivity of the LC-MS/MS detection of propofol in urine and blood by azo-coupling derivatization.}, author={Fabio Vaiano and Francesco Mari and Francesco Paolo Busard{\`o} and Elisabetta Bertol}, journal={Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry}, year={2014}, volume={406 15}, pages={3579-87} }