Superiority of gas chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry assay (GC/MS/MS) for estradiol for monitoring of aromatase inhibitor therapy

Richard J. Santen, Lawrence Demers, Susan Ohorodnik, J. Settlage, Peter Langecker, D. Blanchett, Paul E. Goss, Shuping Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Currently available radioimmunoassay methods for estradiol in serum lack sufficient sensitivity and precision to monitor estradiol levels in patients placed on third generation aromatase inhibitors. We recently validated a gas chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry assay (GC/MS/MS) for estradiol and determined estrogen levels in normal post-menopausal women and in women with breast cancer before and during administration of aromatase inhibitors. Validation of the GC/MS/MS assay in human plasma and human serum included determination of assay sensitivity (<0.63 pg/ml), precision (all CVs less than 17.8%), recovery (98-103%), and linearity of recovery (R = 0.998). Levels of estradiol were lower when assayed by GC/MS/MS compared to RIA under all conditions (7.26 ± 4.82 pg/ml versus 11.9 + 12.0 pg/ml in normal post-menopausal women; 5.88 ± 3.43 pg/ml versus 13.8 ± 7.5 pg/ml in breast cancer patients prior to treatment; and < 0.63 pg/ml versus 5.8 ± 4.1 pg/ml during aromatase inhibitor therapy). Fifty-five women treated either with atamestane/toremiphene or letrozole/placebo were monitored for estradiol levels at 4, 8 and 12 weeks of therapy. The mean levels of estradiol during aromatase inhibitor therapy was 5.8 ± 4.1 pg/ml as measured by RIA and <0.63 pg/ml by GC/MS/MS. The degree of suppression with the aromatase inhibitors as detected by RIA was 58% versus >89% by GC/MS. These results suggest that most RIA methods detect cross-reacting estrogen metabolites and yield higher measured levels than GC/MS/MS. Several pharmacological and clinical considerations suggest that GC/MS/MS should become the preferred method for monitoring aromatase inhibitor therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666-671
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Superiority of gas chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry assay (GC/MS/MS) for estradiol for monitoring of aromatase inhibitor therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this