An analytical method that utilizes isotope-dilution ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography coupled with hybrid quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC-QTOF-MS or called UHPLC-HRMS) was developed, and validated to be highly precise and accurate for the detection of nine parabens (methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, isobutyl-, pentyl-, hexyl-, and benzyl-parabens) in human urine samples. After sample preparation by ultrasound-assisted emulsification microextraction (USAEME), the extract was directly injected into UHPLC-HRMS. By using negative electrospray ionization in the multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode and measuring the peak area ratios of both the natural and the labeled-analogues in the samples and calibration standards, the target analytes could be accurately identified and quantified. Another use for the labeled-analogues was to correct for systematic errors associated with the analysis, such as the matrix effect and other variations. The limits of quantitation (LOQs) were ranging from 0.3 to 0.6 ng/mL. High precisions for both repeatability and reproducibility were obtained ranging from 1 to 8%. High trueness (mean extraction recovery, or called accuracy) ranged from 93 to 107% on two concentration levels. According to preliminary results, the total concentrations of four most detected parabens (methyl-, ethyl-, propyl- and butyl-) ranged from 0.5 to 79.1 ng/mL in male urine samples, and from 17 to 237 ng/mL in female urine samples. Interestingly, two infrequently detected pentyl- and hexyl-parabens were found in one of the male samples in this study.
- Isotope-dilution UHPLC-HRMS
- Urine sample analysis