An ultra performance liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC–MS/MS) method was developed for the analysis of steroids and their glucuronides in urine samples. The method provides high sensitivity and fast analysis, as both steroids and their glucuronides can be analyzed directly without hydrolysis or complex sample preparation. The method was applied in profiling of targeted and nontargeted steroids and steroid glucuronides during pregnancy. The concentrations of 11 of 27 targeted steroids and steroid glucuronides and the concentrations of 25 nontargeted steroid glucuronides increased about 10–400 fold during the pregnancy. The concentrations of most of these 36 compounds began to increase in the first days of the pregnancy, increased gradually during the pregnancy, achieved a maximum in late pregnancy, and decreased sharply after delivery. Exceptionally, the concentrations of allopregnanolone and 17-hydroxypregnenolone started to increase later than those of the other steroids. Moreover, the concentrations of E2 glucuronides began to decrease one week before the delivery, in contrast to most of the steroids and steroid glucuronides, whose concentrations dropped sharply during the delivery. Concentrations of 34 compounds decreased noticeably when the subject was on sick leave owing a series of painful contractions. The results suggest that steroids and especially steroid glucuronides may provide a valuable diagnostic tool to follow the course of pregnancy.
- steroid glucuronide