The aim of this study was to develop and validate accurate and precise UPLC method with tandem mass spectrometry (Waters) for the determination of bexarotene in human plasma using bexarotene D4 as internal standard (IS).
The retention time of bexarotene was 2.75 ± 0.30 min. The method was validated with respect to system suitability, linearity, accuracy, precision, matrix effect, auto sampler carryover test, and recovery. Linearity was found to be 1.04 to 351.93 μg/mL. LOQQC, LQC, INTQC, MQC, and HQC were found to be 1.0550, 2.7800, 25.2700, 131.61, and 263.23 respectively. The mean percentage recovery was found to be 95.72%
The bioanalytical method, a selective and sensitive liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry method to quantitate bexarotene in K2EDTA human plasma over the concentration range 1.0440 to 351.9320 ng/mL, was successfully validated. This method is suitable for sample analysis to support bioequivalence/bioavailability and/or pharmacokinetic studies involving formulations of bexarotene.
Bexarotene (brand name: Targretin)  is an antineoplastic (anticancer) agent approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (in late 1999) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) (early 2001) for use as a treatment for cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) (Fig. 1) [2, 3]. It is a third-generation retinoid. The retinoic acid receptors (RARs) regulate cell differentiation and proliferation whereas RXRs regulate apoptosis . LC-MS-based method that utilized both RPLC and HILIC separations was carried out [1,2,3,4], followed by multivariate data analysis to discriminate the global urine profiles of BC patients and healthy controls [1, 5]. The purpose of this study was to identify a potential biomarker pattern in urine using metabonomics to aid noninvasive BC detection using complementary chromatographic techniques [6, 7].
A few methods are available in literature [3, 8,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16]. A new bioanalytical LC-MS/MS method was performed on the LC-MS/MS (API 4000) [6, 7, 17], consisting of binary gradient pump UV detector (LC-20 AD) employed for analysis, and rheodyne injector with 20 μl fixed loop was used for the present study. Bexarotene was eluted with a flow rate of 1 ml/min using a mobile phase of acetonitrile: buffer 1(90:10, v/v). The retention time of bexarotene analyte is 2.75 ± 0.3 min.
Extraction procedure: acetone-M: 10 mM ammonium format as extraction solvent
Spiked plasma samples were vortexed to ensure complete mixing of contents; 50 μl of internal standard (1 μl/ml of bexarotene D4) solution was added into all respectively labeled empty RIA vials except blank. Five hundred microliters of plasma samples was added to the respective labeled RIA vials containing internal standard solution and vortexed. Two hundred microliters of buffer 1 was added to all the samples and vortexed. 2.5 ml of extraction solvent was added to all the samples and capped. Samples were vibramaxed at 2000 rpm for 10 min. Then, the samples were centrifuged at 3500 rpm for 5 min in a refrigerated centrifuge between 2 and 8 °C. Two milliliters of supernatant was transferred into respective labeled RIA vials. All the samples were dried at 40 °C and 15 psi using LV evaporator. The dried residues get reconstituted with 300 μl of mobile phase and vortexed. The phospholipid removal cartridges get conditioned with 1 ml of acetone-M followed by 1 ml of conditioning solution. The samples were loaded into cartridges and eluted into RIA vials. The samples were transferred into respective labeled auto injector vials and loaded into LC-MS/MS .
The method was validated according to ICH Guidelines Q2 (R1) with respect to system suitability, linearity, accuracy, precision, matrix effect, auto sampler carryover test, and recovery.
Aqueous standard or extracted standard equivalent to middle level of CC standard concentration with internal standard was prepared. Six replicates from the same vial were injected into the chromatographic device. Mean, standard deviation, and percentage coefficient of variation for the retention time and area/area ratio were calculated.
Different serial dilutions were repeated, and fresh aqueous standards (for CCs) were prepared. An appropriate regression model with minimal or no weighing (1/x or 1/x2) was used. The standards were run in the LC-MS/MS, and linearity was evaluated.
This is to check whether there is an interference in peak. Two sets of six normal lots of plasma and one hemolyzed were taken. The aqueous LLOQ dilution was prepared and was spiked in one set of six normal lots of plasma, one hemolyzed lot to achieve LLOQ concentration for analyte, and the specificity sample was processed. The internal standard dilution was prepared, and only 50 μL of internal standard dilution was added to another set of six normal lots of plasma, one hemolyzed was processed for specificity samples. Selectivity samples were prepared in the presence of both analyte and internal standard using the six normal blank plasmas and one hemolyzed.
Precision and accuracy
The precision was determined by calculating percentage %CV at each concentration level of QC sample, and the accuracy was determined by calculating the percentage of nominal value at each concentration level of QC samples.
One P&A batch was performed by employing the same instrument with different analysts and alternatively performed on different instruments of same make.
The overall mean recovery, SD, and %CV were calculated. The recovery experiment was carried out by inject the six replicates of unextracted low, medium, and high QC samples, along with freshly processed CC set and QCs (6 LOC, 6 MQC, and 6 HQ).
Evaluation of stability should be carried out to ensure that every step taken during sample preparation and sample analysis, as well as the storage conditions used, do not affect the concentration of the analyte. The stability tests conducted in method validation are as follows:
Stability in biological matrix: bench top stability, freeze-thaw stability, long-term stability, blood stability
The LCMS/MS procedure was optimized for the estimation of bexarotene with the mobile phase of acetonitrile: buffer 1 (90:10, v/v); the optimum flowrate was 1 ml/min with a column oven temperature and autosampler temperature of 40 °C and 10 °C respectively. Retention time of analyte is 2.75 ± 0.3 min, and IS is 2.73 ± 0.3 min.
Specificity and selectivity
Selectivity was evaluated by analyzing a total of nine lots on the instrument  obtained from independent sources (Table 1). No significant interferences were observed at the retention times of analyte and internal standard (see Table 3).
Signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio
The signal-to-noise ratio was determined for bexarotene at LLOQ concentrations in nine independent lots of K2EDTA human normal plasma including one lot of hemolyzed plasma, one lot of heparin plasma, and one lot of lipemic plasma  demonstrating acceptable S/N intensity.
Carryover is calculated as the percentage peak area observed in a processed blank plasma injected immediately after a processed ULOQ calibration standard, which was used from PA-01 batch sample analysis. No significant carryover was observed for bexarotene and internal standard (see in Table 2).
Matrix effect and matrix factor
Matrix factor and matrix effect were calculated, and results are given in Tables 3 and 4.
Linearity established  by preparing an eight-point standard calibration curve in K2EDTA human plasma covering the bexarotene concentration ranges from 1.0440 to 351.9320 μg/mL using bexarotene D4 as internal standard. The calibration curve was shown to be linear for bexarotene as shown in Fig. 2; the results are seen in Table 5.
The absolute values of residuals of the back-calculated bexarotene calibration standards for the curve were tabulated, and the sum of the absolute values of the residuals was calculated for each weighting factor. The weighting factor of 1/X2 provided the least sum value with residuals of calibration curve standards. Hence, 1/X2 was selected to use for this validation. See the results in Table 6.
The sensitivity for bexarotene at LLOQ level in K2EDTA human plasma determined based on the analysis of six replicates of LLOQ (1.0440 ng/mL) samples was prepared and analyzed against calibration curve standards. See the results in Table 7.
Accuracy, assay precision, and accuracy value for ruggedness batch (PA-03) were determined by analyzing six replicates each of LOQQC, LQC, INTQC, MQC, and HQC samples using different instrument (MTR-BA-LC-MS/MS-05) of the same make and model (UPLC with Triple Quad API 4000), different analytical column (BAC-0644), and different analyst (Table 9).
Intercept = 0.0019, Slope = 0.0118, r2 = 0.9996
The precision of the assay was measured by the percentage co-efficient of variation over the concentration range of LOQQC, LQC, INTQC, MQC, and HQC samples of bexarotene during the course of partial validation. See the results in Table 10.
Recovery of bexarotene and IS
The recovery of bexarotene was determined by comparing the detector response of analyte at three distinct levels of extracted low-, medium-, and high-quality control samples of PA-01 with detector response obtained from unextracted aqueous quality control samples at low, medium, and high level respectively. See the results in Tables 11 and 12.
IS recovery = 95.72%
Six replicates of bexarotene samples at LQC and HQC concentration in K2EDTA human plasma were analyzed after four freeze-thaw (FT4) cycles. See the results in Table 13.
Bench top stability
Bench top stability of bexarotene in K2EDTA human plasma was evaluated at room temperature. Six replicates of LQC and HQC samples were processed after keeping the samples on bench for about 12.30 h. See the results in Table 14.
Auto sampler stability for bexarotene
Six replicates of LQC and HQC samples were processed and kept stored in auto sampler at 10 °C for 96.80 h . See the results in Tables 15 and 16.
Long-term stock solution stability for bexarotene
Stock solution bexarotene with concentration of 975.6417 μg/mL was kept in the refrigerator for 14 days . A fresh stock of 986.1296 μg/mL was prepared on the day of analysis. Both stocks were diluted to LQC and HQC equivalent concentration of 0.1317 μg/mL and 0.1331 μg/mL and 13.1712 and 13.3127 μg/mL for stored and fresh stock respectively. The area ratios of stability stock solution at LQC and HQC level were compared against freshly prepared stock solution LQC and HQC level. See the results in Tables 17 and 18.
Limit of detection
From LLOQ sample (1.0540 ng/mL), four different lower concentrations (0.8440, 0.6340, 0.4240, and 0.2120 ng/mL) including five times the lower concentration (LOD dilution) were prepared, and six replicates of these samples were analyzed. So the selected LLOQ (approx. 1.0540 ng/mL) was more suitable to quantify bexarotene in plasma using LC-MS/MS.
CC standards, LQC, and HQC samples of PA-02 were reinjected after 08.95 h. Percentage nominal for LQC and HQC for bexarotene was 98.99 and 100.30%, respectively. The percentage CV for LQC and HQC for bexarotene was 3.66 and 1.97%, respectively. See the results in Table 19.
Bioanalytical method is developed and validated as per ICH guidelines for the estimation of bexarotene in human plasma by using LC-MS/MS. The mobile phase was selected after trying various combinations of polar solvents. The proportion of solvents and variation of buffers were found to be quite critical as slight variation in it adversely affected the resolution of peaks. Considering all the facts, the validation parameter was finally fixed for this method. The bioanalytical method, a selective and sensitive liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry method to quantitate bexarotene in K2EDTA human plasma over the concentration range from 1.0440 to 351.9320 ng/mL, was successfully validated. This method is suitable for sample analysis to support bioequivalence/bioavailability and/or pharmacokinetic studies involving formulations of bexarotene.
Availability of data and materials
All data and material are available upon request.
US Food and Drug Administration
The retinoid X receptor
European Medicines Agency
Cutaneous T cell lymphoma
Reverse phase liquid chromatography
Hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography
Liquid chromatography and mass spectroscopy
Retinoic acid receptors
High performance liquid chromatography
International Council for Harmonisation
Lower limit of quantification
Upper limit of quantification
Gniadecki R, Assaf C, Bagot M, Dummer R, Duvic M, Knobler R (2007) The optimal use of bexarotene in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Br J Dermatol 157(3):433–440
van de Merbel NC, van Veen JH, Wilkens G, Loewen G (2002) Validated liquid chromatographic method for the determination of bexarotene in human plasma. J Chromatography B, Anal Technol Biomed Life Sci 775(2):189–195
Dragnev KH, Petty WJ, Shah SJ, Lewis LD, Black CC, Memoli V, Nugent WC, Hermann T, Negro-Vilar A, Rigas JR, Dmitrovsky E (2007) A proof-of-principle clinical trial of bexarotene in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (PDF). Clinical cancer research. Clin Cancer Res 13(6):1794–1800
Esteva FJ, Glaspy J, Baidas S, Laufman L, Hutchins L, Dickler M, Tripathy D, Cohen R, DeMichele A, Yocum RC, Osborne CK, Hayes DF, Hortobagyi GN, Winer E, Demetri GD (2003) Multicenter phase II study of oral bexarotene for patients with metastatic breast cancer (PDF). J Clin Oncol 21(6):999–1006
Mogili R, Kanala K, Challa BR, Chandu BR, Bannoth CK (2011) Development and validation of amisulpride in human plasma by HPLC coupled with tandem MS and its application to a pharmacokinetic study. Sci Pharm 79(3):583–599
Gajula R, Pilli NR, Ravi VB, Maddela R, Inamadugu JK, Polagani SR, Busa S (2012) Simultaneous determination of atorvastatin and aspirin in human plasma by LC-MS/MS: its pharmacokinetic application. Sci Pharm 80(4):923–940
Selvadurai M, Meyyanathan SN (2011) Determination of deflazacort in human plasma by LC-MS after liquid-liquid extraction and its application in human pharmacokinetics studies. Pharmaceutical Methods 2(2):106–111
Huang L, Li X, Marzan F, Lizak PS, Aweeka FT (2012) Determination of lumefantrine in small-volume human plasma by LC-MS/MS: using a deuterated lumefantrine to overcome matrix effect and ionization saturation. Bioanalysis 4(2):157–166
Sharma VK, Glick J, Liao Q, Shen C, Vouros P (2012) GenoMass software: tool based on electrospray ionization tandem mass MS for characterization and sequencing of oligonucleotide adducts. J Mass Spectrum 47(4):490–501
We declare(s) that we have no competing interests.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Rights and permissions
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Nagaraju, K., Chowdary, Y.A. & Rao, M.V.B. Development and validation of bexarote by bioanalytical methods using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectroscopy (LC-MS/MS).
Futur J Pharm Sci7, 28 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s43094-020-00155-6