Simultaneous quantification of intracellular lamivudine and abacavir triphosphate metabolites by LC–MS/MS

Nagsen Gautam, Zhiyi Lin, Mary G. Banoub, Nathan A. Smith, Audai Maayah, Jo Ellyn McMillan, Howard E. Gendelman, Yazen Alnouti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) require intracellular phosphorylation to active triphosphate (TP) nucleotide metabolites before they can inhibit the HIV reverse transcriptase. However, monitoring these pharmacologically active TP metabolites is challenging due to their instability and their low concentrations at the pg/ml levels in blood and tissues. The combination of lamivudine (3TC) and abacavir (ABC) is one of the first lines for HIV therapy. Therefore, a sensitive, selective, accurate, and precise LC–MS/MS method was developed and validated for the simultaneous quantification of 3TC- and ABC-TP metabolites in mouse blood and tissues. Calibration curves were linear over the range of 10–100,000 pg/ml for 3TC-TP and 4–40,000 pg/ml for carbovir-TP (CBV-TP; phosphorylated metabolite of ABC). This corresponds to 2.1–21,322 fmol/106 cells for 3TC-TP and 0.8–8000 fmol/106 cells for CBV-TP. Accuracy and precision were less than 15% for all quality control sample (QCs), and absolute extraction recovery of were >65% for 3TC-TP and >90% for CBV-TP. The method was optimized to ensure stability of TP samples and standards during sample collection, preparation, analysis, and storage conditions. This method has enhanced sensitivity and requires smaller amounts of blood and tissue samples compared to previous LC–MS/MS methods for 3TC- and CBV-TP quantification. The developed method was successfully applied to characterize the pharmacokinetic profile of TP metabolites in mouse peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), spleen, lymph nodes, and liver cells. In addition, another direct, simple, and high-throughput method for the quantification of TP standards was developed and used for the analysis of stability samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-259
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis
StatePublished - May 10 2018


  • LC–MS/MS
  • Mice
  • Nucleoside analogs
  • Triphosphate metabolites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Spectroscopy
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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