, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 185-205
Date: 26 Apr 2013

Revisiting hyper- and hypo-androgenism by tandem mass spectrometry

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Abstract

Modern endocrinology is living a critical age of transition as far as laboratory testing and biochemical diagnosis are concerned. Novel liquid chromatography—tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) assays for steroid measurement in biological fluids have abundantly demonstrated their analytical superiority over immunometric platforms that until now have dominated the world of steroid hormones determination in clinical laboratories. One of the most useful applications of LC-MS/MS is in the hypogonadism and hyperandrogenism field: LC-MS/MS has proved particularly suitable for the detection of low levels of testosterone typical of women and children, and in general more reliable in accurately determining hypogonadal male levels. This technique also offers increased informative power by allowing multi-analytical profiles that give a more comprehensive picture of the overall hormonal asset. Several LC-MS/MS methods for testosterone have been published in the last decade, some of them included other androgen or more comprehensive steroid profiles. LC-MS/MS offers the concrete possibility of achieving a definitive standardization of testosterone measurements and the generation of widely accepted reference intervals, that will set the basis for a consensus on the diagnostic value of biochemical testing. The present review is aimed at summarizing technological advancements in androgen measurements in serum and saliva. We also provide a picture of the state of advancement of standardization of testosterone assays, of the redefinition of androgen reference intervals by novel assays and of studies using LC-MS/MS for the characterization and diagnosis of female hyperandrogenism and male hypogonadism.