Core Facility for Metabolomics

Methods development

The laboratory has developed a sensitive method for the quantification of estrogens and other steroid hormones in 300 µL serum (1).

Chromatogram of estrogen
Figure 1. Endogenous female sex steroids in a 51 year old woman.
Glucocorticoids, glucocorticoid metabolites and androgens.
Figure 2. Glucocorticoids, glucocorticoid metabolites and androgens.

The chromatogram (Figure 1) shows endogenous concentrations of female sex steroids in serum from a woman during the menopausal transition. The method includes other estrogens (estriol, 17α-estradiol, ethinylestradiol), androgens (testosterone,epi-testosterone, androstenedione, DHEA-S and 17α-OH-progesterone) and corticosteroids (cortisol, cortisone and aldosterone).

Estrogens are important for the development of the adult female phenotype and affect the development of breast cancer and manifestations of several other diseases that afflict women. Progesterone is necessary for implantation and maintenance of pregnancy.

Methods for the quantification of glucocorticoids, glucocorticoid metabolites and androgens in serum, urine and saliva have been established (2). 100 µL of sample material is generally used for the analyses, and sensitivity is < 100 pmol/L for most compounds. The chromatogram (Figure 2) shows endogenous glucocorticoids and glucocorticoid metabolites (panel A) and androgens and other steroids (panel B) in 100µL urine. Endogenous concentrations (nmol/L) were determined for unconjugated forms of cortisone (150), cortisol (350), tetrahydrocortisol (105), tetrahydrocortison (420), testosterone (1), androstenedione (6), 17α-hydroksyprogesterone (3) and progesterone (1).

Glucocorticoids regulate the expression of a large number of genes, and are important for energy metabolism, inflammation and immunity. Synthetic glucocorticoids are used for the treatment of inflammatory and other diseases. Androgens play a key role in fetal sexual differentiation and in the development of the adult male phenotype. They are involved in the development of prostatic cancer and other diseases in men.

Further information on methods is found in the sections on projects and more about methods.


1. Triebner K, Bifulco E, Real F, Hustad S. A sensitive method for estrogen profiling in human serum by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. 16th European Congress of Endocrinology 2014, Wrocław, Poland. Endocrine Abstracts (2014) 35 P 647.

2. Methlie P, Hustad S, Kellmann R, Almås B, Moter-Erichsen M, Husebye ES, Løvås K. Multisteroid LC-MS/MS assay for glucocorticoids and androgens, and its application in Addison’s disease. Endocr Connect 2013;2:125-36.