LC-MS/MS simultaneous analysis of allopregnanolone, epiallopregnanolone, pregnanolone, dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone 3-sulfate in human plasma

Luana Lionetto, Fernando De Andrés, Matilde Capi, Martina Curto, Donata Sabato, Maurizio Simmaco, Paola Bossù, Eleonora Sacchinelli, Maria Donata Orfei, Federica Piras, Nerisa Banaj, Gianfranco Spalletta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aim: Several neuropsychopharmacological properties have been attributed to the 3α-reduced pregnane steroids, allopregnanolone and pregnanolone, as well as to dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate because of their ability to modulate γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABAA) receptors in the CNS. In order to understand better their role in several mechanisms in CNS, a new methodology is proposed to monitor these compounds in human plasma. Methodology & results: The analytes were first derivatized with 2-hydrazinopyridine and extracted from plasma using SPE. Then, the compounds were separated and detected by LC-MS/MS. A mobile phase of formic acid (0.1%) in water and methanol through a gradient of composition and a flow rate of 0.3 ml min-1 resulted in good separations of the analytes. Linear responses in wide range of concentrations and LOQs ranging from 10 (dehydroepiandrosterone 3-sulfate) to 40 pg ml-1 (dehydroepiandrosterone) were obtained in <9 min. The method proposed has been validated and then applied to monitor these neurosteroids in plasma samples from ten volunteers. Conclusion: For the first time, a straightforward and reliable method for the chromatographic separation of allopregnanolone, epiallopregnanolone and pregnanolone, as well as of dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone 3-sulfate was carried out, with optimal accuracy, sensitivity and specificity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-539
Number of pages13
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017



  • allopregnanolone
  • dehydroepiandrosterone
  • mass spectrometry
  • neurosteroids
  • plasma
  • pregnanolone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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