Orbitrap Illustration

Human Urine Screening

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) distinguishes between three forbidden doping methods and eleven classes of prohibited substances. The concentration of a substance that laboratories are expected to detect on a day-to-day basis is the minimum required performance limit (MRPL), which is established by WADA. Since the different classes of doping substances cover over 200 chemically and pharmacologically different compounds, developing high-throughput chromatographic–mass spectrometric methods to screen such a large set of compounds in a single method is a great analytical challenge.
High-resolution, accurate-mass mass spectrometry based on Orbitrap technology offers for the first time an efficient and easy-to-use solution for the challenge at hand. The high resolution of up to 140,000 FWHM enables separation of drugs from interferences. Fast positive/negative switching catches acidic, basic and neutral drugs. Better than 3 ppm mass accuracy assures confidence in identification, and fragment ions from the HCD cell further confirm the identity beyond a reasonable doubt. All of this is made simple by using Thermo Scientific TraceFinder and ExactFinder processing software designed specifically for this purpose.
Here we describe application of the Orbitrap technology-based workflow solutions for screening and quantitation in urine.

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Workflow Overview for Human Urine Screening


Screening of a wide range of drugs in urine is challenging due to the presence of many similar molecules in the sample, the matrix interference, and the significant sample-to-sample differences due to the varying nature of the matrix. For faster analysis time, very high resolution, accurate-mass measurements and fast polarity switching are necessary to identify the drugs and metabolites.

The workflow described here supports simple dilute-and-shoot, solid-phase extraction (SPE), liquid-liquid extraction (LLE), and online sample extraction methods using Thermo Scientific TurboFlow technology for a large number of drugs and metabolites. It uses simple full-scan MS at 100,000 FWHM resolution in alternating positive/negative polarity and HCD fragmentation. The MS and fragmentation data acquired in Full Scan mode is processed by Thermo Scientific TraceFinder or ExactFinder software. The software supports both targeted and unknown screening. It does a very thorough interrogation of the data by making use of the built-in database and mass spectral library of over 1400 compounds, retention times, isotope pattern matching, elemental composition determinations and ChemSpider searches to identify and confirm drugs and metabolites in the sample.

Literature Highlights

Development and validation of an open screening method for diuretics, stimulants and selected compounds in human urine by UHPLC–HRMS for doping control

Girón AJ, Deventer K, et al.
Anal Chim Acta. 2012 Apr 6;721:137-46.

Use of benchtop exactive high resolution and high mass accuracy orbitrap mass spectrometer for screening in horse doping control

Moulard Y, Bailly-Chouriberry L, et al.
Anal Chim Acta. 2011 Aug 26;700(1-2):126-36.

Studies on the metabolism of the α-pyrrolidinophenone designer drug methylenedioxy-pyrovalerone (MDPV) in rat and human urine and human liver microsomes using GC-MS and LC-high-resolution MS and its detectability in urine by GC-MS.

Meyer MR, Du P, et al.
J Mass Spectrom. 2010 Dec;45(12):1426-42.

Development and validation of LC-HRMS and GC-NICI-MS methods for stereoselective determination of MDMA and its phase I and II metabolites in human urine

Schwaninger AE, Meyer MR, et al.
J Mass Spectrom. 2011 Jul;46(7):603-14.

Mass spectrometric detection of siRNA in plasma samples for doping control purposes.

Kohler M, Thomas A, et al.
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2010 Oct;398(3):1305-12.