A UPLC-MS/MS assay of the "pittsburgh cocktail": Six CYP probe-drug/metabolites from human plasma and urine using stable isotope dilution

Nicolas A. Stewart, Shama C. Buch, Thomas P. Conrads, Robert A. Branch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The efficiency of drug metabolism by a single enzyme can be measured as the fractional metabolic clearance which can be used as a measure of whole body activity for that enzyme. Measurement of activity of multiple enzymes simultaneously is feasible using a cocktail approach, however, analytical approach using different assays for drug probes can be cumbersome. A quantitative ultra-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) based method for the rapid measurement of six cytochrome P450 (CYP) probe drugs and their relevant metabolites is described. The six specific probe substrates/metabolites are caffeine/paraxanthine (CYP1A2), flurbiprofen/ 4′-hydroxyflurbiprofen (CYP2C9), mephenytoin/4′-hydroxymephenytoin (CYP2C19), debrisoquine/4-hydroxydebrisoquine (CYP2D6), chlorzoxazone/6′- hydroxychlorzoxazone (CYP2E1) and dapsone/N-monoacetyldapsone (NAT2). These probes were quantified by stable isotope dilution from plasma and urine. The present workflow provides a robust, fast and sensitive assay for the "Pittsburgh cocktail", and has been successfully applied to a clinical phenotyping study of liver disease. A representative group of 17 controls and patients with chronic liver disease were administered orally caffeine (100 mg), chlorzoxazone (250 mg), debrisoquine (10 mg), mephenytoin (100 mg), flurbiprofen (50 mg) and dapsone (100 mg). Urine (0 through 8 h) and plasma (4 and 8 h) samples were analyzed for drug/metabolite amounts by stable isotope dilution UPLC-MS/MS. The phenotypic activity of drug metabolizing enzymes was investigated with 17 patient samples. Selected reaction monitoring (SRM) was optimized for each drug and metabolite. In the method developed, analytes were resolved by reversed-phase by development of a gradient using a water/methanol solvent system. SRM of each analyte was performed in duplicate on a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer utilizing an 8 min analytical method each, one with the source operating in the positive mode and one in the negative mode, using the same solvent system. This method enabled quantification of each drug (caffeine, chlorzoxazone, debrisoquine, mephenytoin, flurbiprofen, and dapsone) and its resulting primary metabolite in urine or plasma in patient samples. The method developed and the data herein demonstrate a robust quantitative assay to examine changes in CYP enzymes both independently or as part of a cocktail. The clinical use of a combination of probe drugs with UPLC-MS/MS is a highly efficient tool for the assessment of CYP enzyme activity in liver disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-612
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - 7 Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


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