, Volume 384, Issue 1, pp 199-207

Development of a high-throughput method for the determination of itraconazole and its hydroxy metabolite in human plasma, employing automated liquid–liquid extraction based on 96-well format plates and LC/MS/MS

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A semi-automated liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) method was developed for the simultaneous quantification of the antifungal drug itraconazole (ITZ) and its coactive metabolite hydroxyitraconazole (OH-ITZ) in human plasma. The plasma samples underwent liquid–liquid extraction (LLE) in 2.2 mL 96 deepwell plates. ITZ, OH-ITZ and the internal standard (IS) R51012 were extracted from plasma, using a mixture of acetonitrile (ACN) and methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE) as the organic solvent. This specific mixture, due to its composition, had a significant impact on the performance of the assay. All liquid transfer steps, including preparation of calibration standards and quality control samples as well as the addition of the IS, were performed automatically using robotic liquid handling workstations for parallel sample processing. After vortexing, centrifugation and freezing, the supernatant organic solvent was evaporated. The analytes and IS were dissolved in a small volume of a reconstitution solution, an aliquot of which was analyzed by combined reversed phase LC/MS/MS, with positive ion electrospray ionization and a TurboIonSpray interface, using multiple reactions monitoring (MRM). The method was shown to be sensitive and specific to both ITZ and OH-ITZ, it revealed excellent linearity for the range of concentrations 2–500 ng mL−1 for ITZ and 4–1000 ng mL−1 for OH-ITZ, it was very accurate and it gave very good inter- and intra-day precisions. The proposed high-throughput method was employed in a bioequivalence study after per os administration of two 100 mg tablets of ITZ, and it allowed this study to be completed in under four days.