Practical fluorimetric assay for the detection of anticancer drug SN-38 in human plasma

Stefano Tartaggia, Maria Domenica Alvau, Anna Meneghello, Bruno Casetta, Federico Polo, Giuseppe Toffoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The implementation of therapeutic drug monitoring in the routine clinical practice in oncology is mainly limited by the lack of therapeutic indexes for the majority of the anticancer drugs, and by the absence of suitable analytical tools, which can accurately quantify in real time the concentration of the administered drugs and their relevant metabolites in biological fluids. In this work, a simple and efficient fluorimetric determination of SN-38, the active metabolite of the anticancer drug irinotecan, was developed and applied to human plasma samples. The intrinsic fluorescence of SN-38 allowed its quantification in the range 10–500 ng mL−1 with a LOQ of 5.0 ng mL−1 and a LOD of 1.5 ng mL−1. Low interferences due to main metabolites of irinotecan and comedications, commonly associated with administration of irinotecan, were observed. A validation study, according to FDA and EMA guidelines for bioanalytical method validation, was carried out and, finally, blind samples were analyzed in parallel with a HPLC-MS method obtaining an excellent agreement between the two techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-81
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis
Publication statusPublished - Sep 10 2018


  • Anticancer drugs
  • Diagnostics
  • Fluorescence
  • Irinotecan
  • Oncology
  • SN-38
  • Therapeutic drug monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Spectroscopy
  • Clinical Biochemistry

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