Tamoxifen metabolite isomer separation and quantification by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry

Malgorzata Jaremko, Yumi Kasai, Myra F. Barginear, George Raptis, Robert J. Desnick, Chunli Yu

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30 Scopus citations


Tamoxifen (Tam), the antiestrogen used to treat estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer is a pro-drug that is converted to its major active metabolites, endoxifen and 4-hydroxy-tamoxifen (4-OH-Tam) by various biotransformation enzymes of which cytochrome P450-2D6 (CYP2D6) is key. The usual Tam dose is 20 mg daily; however, the plasma active metabolite concentrations vary due to common genetic variants encoding the biotransformation enzymes and environmental factors (e.g., concomitant drugs) that inhibit these enzymes. Effective treatment depends on adequate Tam conversion to its active isomers. To monitor metabolite plasma levels, a novel liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method was developed to separate and quantitate Tam, N-desmethyl-tamoxifen (ND-Tam), and tamoxifen-N-oxide (Tam-N-oxide), and the E, Z, and Z′ isomers of endoxifen and 4-OH-Tam. Known standards were used to identify each metabolite/isomer. Quantitation of these metabolites in plasma was linear from 0.6 to 2000 nM. Intra- and inter-assay reproducibilities were 0.2-8.4% and 0.6-6.3%, respectively. Accuracy determined by spike experiments with known standards was 86-103%. Endoxifen, 4-OH-Tam, and their isomers were stable in fresh frozen plasma for ≤6 months. This method provides the first sensitive, specific, accurate, and reproducible quantitation of Tam and its metabolite isomers for monitoring Tam-treated breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10186-10193
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number24
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2010


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