Identification of fentanyl, alfentanil, sufentanil, remifentanil and their major metabolites in human urine by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry for doping control purposes

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearch


Research units


Since January 2005, the list of prohibited substances established by the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibits the opioid agent fentanyl as well as its related drugs in professional and amateur sports. Fast, reliable and robust analytical assays are required that allow the sensitive determination of these compounds or respective metabolites in human urine, and liquid chromatography interfaced to mass spectrometry has proven to be a suitable and powerful tool for drug testing for several years. A screening and confirmation method was developed that enables the identification of fentanyl, alfentanil, remifentanil and sufentanil as well as their N-dealkylated or de-esterified metabolites utilizing solid-phase extraction of a 2 mL urine aliquot followed by LC-electrospray-MS/MS analysis. The procedure was validated in terms of recovery (95.8-104.9%), lower limit of detection (0.5 ng mL-1), specificity and interday precision (3.9-19.8%) for the four opioid drugs and the metabolic product norfentanyl. In addition, the mass spectrometric behavior of fentanyl after electrospray ionization and collision-induced dissociation was studied by synthesis and analysis of structurally related compounds, and dissociation pathways were proposed allowing the characterization of target analytes and corresponding metabolites.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of mass spectrometry (Chichester, England)
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)419-427
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2005

ID: 133707


View graph of relations