Stereoselective method to quantify bupropion and its three major metabolites, hydroxybupropion, erythro-dihydrobupropion, and threo-dihydrobupropion using HPLC-MS/MS

Andrea R. Masters, Michael McCoy, David R. Jones, Zeruesenay Desta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Bupropion metabolites formed via oxidation and reduction exhibit pharmacological activity, but little is known regarding their stereoselective disposition. A novel stereoselective liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method was developed to separate and quantify enantiomers of bupropion, 4-hydroxybupropion, and erythro- and threo-dihydrobupropion. Liquid-liquid extraction was implemented to extract all analytes from 50 μL human plasma. Acetaminophen (APAP) was used as an internal standard. The analytes were separated on a Lux 3 μ Cellulose-3 250 × 4.6 mm column by methanol: acetonitrile: ammonium bicarbonate: ammonium hydroxide gradient elution and monitored using an ABSciex 5500 QTRAP triple-quadrupole mass spectrometer equipped with electrospray ionization probe in positive mode. Extraction efficiency for all analytes was ≥70%. The stability at a single non-extracted concentration for over 48 h at ambient temperature resulted in less than 9.8% variability for all analytes. The limit of quantification (LOQ) for enantiomers of bupropion and 4-hydroxybupropion was 0.3 ng/mL, while the LOQ for enantiomers of erythro- and threo-hydrobupropion was 0.15 ng/mL. The intra-day precision and accuracy estimates for enantiomers of bupropion and its metabolites ranged from 3.4% to 15.4% and from 80.6% to 97.8%, respectively, while the inter-day precision and accuracy ranged from 6.1% to 19.9% and from 88.5% to 99.9%, respectively. The current method was successfully implemented to determine the stereoselective pharmacokinetics of bupropion and its metabolites in 3 healthy volunteers administered a single 100 mg oral dose of racemic bupropion. This novel, accurate, and precise HPLC-MS/MS method should enhance further research into bupropion stereoselective metabolism and drug interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-208
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences
StatePublished - Mar 15 2016



  • 4-Hydroxybupropion
  • Bupropion
  • Enantiomers
  • Erythro-Dihydrobupropion
  • Stereoselective
  • Threo-Dihydrobupropion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry

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