Liquid Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry Applications for Quantification of Endogenous Sex Hormones

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Liquid chromatography, coupled with tandem mass spectrometry, presents a powerful tool for the quantification of the sex steroid hormones 17-β estradiol, progesterone and testosterone from biological matrices. The importance of accurate quantification with these hormones, even at endogenous levels, has evolved with our understanding of the role these regulators play in human development, fertility and disease risk and manifestation. Routine monitoring of these analytes can be accomplished by immunoassay techniques, which face limitations on specificity and sensitivity, or using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. LC–MS/MS is growing in capability and acceptance for clinically relevant quantification of sex steroid hormones in biological matrices and is able to overcome many of the limitations of immunoassays. Analyte specificity has improved through the use of novel derivatizing agents, and sensitivity has been refined through the use of high-resolution chromatography and mass spectrometric technology. This review highlights these innovations, among others, in LC–MS/MS steroid hormone analysis captured in the literature over the last decade.