High-performance liquid chromatography application for serum cortisol quantification as a substitute for radioimmunoassay

BACKGROUND: The quantification of cortisol in different organic fluids has not only been applied to different human nosological conditions as a diagnostic aid but it has also been used in clinical research. In clinical application, cortisol is routinely measured by radioimmunoassay (RIA). In the determination of free urinary cortisol this technique has been replaced by the high-performance liquid chromatography mainly in the diagnosis of Cushing syndrome. As to serum cortisol determination, there is no evidence of the application of liquid chromatography as a substitute for other analytical techniques. OBJECTIVE: The development of an analytical methodology using reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) to determine serum cortisol levels as a substitute for RIA in order to reduce radioactive waste. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Cortisol was directly quantified by RP-HPLC in previously ether-extracted serum samples. Triamcinolone acetonide was used as internal standard (IS). The chromatographic separation was developed in a BDS-Hypersil-C18® column (125 x 4 mm, 5 µm) using water-acetonitrile (72:28; v/v) as mobile phase at 1 ml/min and steroid peaks were measured at 243 nm. RESULTS: Cortisol and IS presented retention time of 3.4 and 7.1 min, respectively. The precision was less than 10% and accuracy was less than 4%. DISCUSSION: The method was effective and efficient, with good sensitivity and linearity in the concentration range of 2.5 to 60.0 µµg/dl. CONCLUSION: The present methodology substitutes RIA at clinical application.

HPLC; Radioimmunoassay; Cortisol; Triamcinolone acetonide; Steroids


Sociedade Brasileira de Patologia Clínica, Rua Dois de Dezembro,78/909 - Catete, CEP: 22220-040v - Rio de Janeiro - RJ, Tel.: +55 21 - 3077-1400 / 3077-1408, Fax.: +55 21 - 2205-3386 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil
E-mail: jbpml@sbpc.org.br