Quantitation of the anticancer drug abiraterone and its metabolite Δ(4)-abiraterone in human plasma using high-resolution mass spectrometry

Atul Bhatnagar, Matthew J. McKay, Megan Crumbaker, Ketan Ahire, Peter Karuso, Howard Gurney, Mark P. Molloy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Abiraterone acetate is administered as a prodrug to patients with metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) and is readily metabolized into the potent 17a-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase (CYP17) enzyme inhibitor and androgen receptor inhibitor abiraterone and Δ(4)-abiraterone (D4A), respectively. To investigate pharmacokinetic variability in abiraterone acetate metabolism we developed highly sensitive liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) assays for the simultaneous quantitation of abiraterone and D4A in human plasma using high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) on an Orbitrap mass spectrometer. This study demonstrates the quantitative performance of HRMS and compares the conventional Parallel Reaction Monitoring (PRM) mode of quantitation with the unconventional Full scan MS mode conducted at high resolution ( > 70,000 resolution). The use of HRMS for quantitation of abiraterone and D4A yielded assays that were linear over a broad concentration range (0.074–509.6 ng/mL for abiraterone; 0.075–59.93 ng/mL for D4A) in both Full scan MS and PRM modes. The assay precision for abiraterone and D4A was below 5% in PRM mode and 7% in Full scan MS mode. Accuracies fell within 98–107% for abiraterone and 104–112% for D4A in PRM mode, and 96–116% for abiraterone and 96–105% for D4A in Full scan MS mode, each meeting the acceptance criteria of FDA approved guidelines for bioanalytical methods The PRM analysis of abiraterone and D4A provided high specificity and reduced background interference, however the Full scan MS detection at a resolution of 70,000 was advantageous in that it required minimal optimization, was simple to implement, yielded comparable quantitative characteristics to PRM and the data is useful for re-analysis. Use of the assays were demonstrated for quantitation of these metabolites in steady state trough level plasma of seventeen (17) patients with mCRPC, demonstrating the inter-patient variability of up to 10-fold concentration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-74
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2018


  • abiraterone
  • high-resolution mass spectrometry
  • metabolomics
  • pharmacokinetics
  • prostate cancer

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