Determination of morphine by high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection: Application to human and rabbit pharmacokinetic studies

Wen Jinn Liaw, Shung Tai Ho, Jhi Joung Wang, Oliver Yoa Pu Hu, Jih Heng Li

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A rapid, sensitive, precise and accurate high-performance liquid chromatographic assay with coulometric electrochemical detection was developed for the determination of morphine in human, rabbit, pig and dog plasma. It includes a one-step extraction procedure with hexane-isoamyl alcohol (1:1, v/v) at pH 8.9 (adjusted with phosphoric acid) and reversed-phase liquid chromatography on a μPorasil column. The mobile phase was composed of 5 mM sodium acetate buffer (pH 3.75)-acetonitrile (25:75, v/v). A flow-rate of 1.2 ml/min at 20°C was used. The working potentials for the electrochemical detector were +0.20 V for detector cell 1, +0.55 V for detector cell 2 and +0.75 V for the guard cell. The limit of detection of morphine was 100 pg/ml of plasma. Repeatability, precision and accuracy were also determined concomitantly. The calibration graphs were linear in the concentration range 0.25-250 ng/ml with correlation coefficients of 0.998±0.01 and with a minimum intercept of 0.05±0.08. The precision in plasma was acceptable, with coefficients of variation less than 11%. The absolute recoveries of morphine and nalbuphine (internal standard) were between 86 and 89% and independent of morphine concentration. Pharmacokinetics after oral morphine [MST Continus(TM) (morphine sulphate tablets) 30 mg, Bard Pharmaceutical, Cambridge, UK] in humans revealed a one-compartment first-order absorption model with one absorption phase and one elimination phase. The absorption and elimination half-lives were 2.46 and 1.80 h, respectively. Pharmacokinetics after intravenous morphine (3 mg/kg) in rabbits showed a linear two-compartment open model with one distribution phase and one elimination phase. The distribution and elimination half-lives were 0.5 and 33.8 h, respectively. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-245
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chromatography B: Biomedical Applications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 4 1998
Externally publishedYes



  • Morphine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)

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