Improved ultrasonic-based sample treatment for the screening of anabolic steroids by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


A rapid sample treatment procedure for the gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) determination of anabolic steroids in human urine has been developed. The new procedure makes use of ultrasonic energy to reduce reaction times and increase the overall sensitivity. The following variables affecting the performance of the ultrasonic treatment were optimised: (i) time, (ii) device, (iii) frequency, and (iv) temperature. It was found that, under an ultrasonic field, the hydrolysis of conjugated steroids with beta-glucuronidase from Escherichia coli K12 was possible with a treatment time of 10 min. The accuracy and precision of the ultrasonic method were found to be in agreement with those achieved with the conventional thermal conductivity procedure (Student's t-test; p = 0.05, n = 10). After the enzymatic hydrolysis, the derivatisation of the target compounds with trimethylsilyl (TMS) reagent, methyl-N-trimethylsilyltrifluoroacetamide (MSTFA)/NR4I/dithioerythritol (DTE) (1000:2:4, v/w/w), was also accelerated using ultrasonic energy. In order to test the applicability of the use of ultrasonic energy in the acceleration of the derivatisation reaction with TMS, the classic method of thermal conductivity was applied for comparative purposes to a pool of 35 androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS) and/or their metabolites. The results demonstrated that after 3 min of sonication in a Sonoreactor device (50% amplitude), 19 of the 35 compounds studied showed similar reaction yield to those obtained with the classic procedure requiring 30 min (Student's t-test; p = 0.05, n = 5); 13 increased to higher silylation yields; and for the steroids 1-testosterone, danazol and etiocholanolone-D5, the same results were obtained using a sonication time of 5 min. The overall applicability of the ultrasonic-based sample treatment method is shown by the analysis of five urine samples. The results are similar to those achieved by the routine procedure. The new method is fast, robust, and allows high sample throughput. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)2375-2385
JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

Cite this