Oligonucleotide therapeutics have emerged as a promising class of drugs to treat a wide range of diseases caused by genetic abnormalities. Replacement of the phosphodiester linkage with a phosphorothioate is one of the most successful modifications made to oligonucleotides to enhance their in vivo stability. The longer elimination phase of phosphorothioates and other modified oligonucleotides requires sensitive and selective methods to quantify the parent drug and their metabolites simultaneously. Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry has excellent selectivity between the parent drug and its metabolites and a wide dynamic range. However, the biological sample extraction remains a formidable challenge in developing quantitative LC–MS methods for oligonucleotides. Protein precipitation, protein digestion, liquid–liquid extraction, reversed phase solid phase extraction (SPE), strong anion exchange SPE, and combinations of them have been reported to extract oligonucleotides from biological matrices. Unfortunately, these methods either have low recoveries or present potential problems for applications with chromatography due to the large amount of matrix substances in the resulting solutions. In this study, a weak anion exchange SPE method was optimized. The recovery ranged from 60% to 80% depending on the concentration. This is the first report of a one-step SPE method with recoveries greater than 60% across the method dynamic range. This sample extraction procedure was used in combination with ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. The lower limit of quantitation was 10 ng/mL (1.3 nM), and the dynamic range was 10–1,000 ng/mL. The intra- and inter-day precision and accuracy were within 8.4% and 10.5%, respectively.
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