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Pharmacokinetics of Anti-Rheumatic drugs Methotrexate and Tofacitinib with its metabolite M9 in Rats by UPLC-MS/MS


Er-min Gu*, Lingjie Xue, Chenjian Zhou, Yang Xia and Ge-xin Dai   Pages 1 - 10 ( 10 )


Background: Tofacitinib is an oral JAK inhibitor for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The clinical efficacy and safety of an administered tofacitinib, either monotherapy or in combination with conventional synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, mainly methotrexate (MTX), have been evaluated. The high plasma concentration with delayed medicine clearance may affect the liver and/or kidney functions. In this study, an ultra-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC- MS/MS) method for the quantitative analysis of methotrexate, tofacitinib, and metabolite M9 in plasma of Sprague Dawley (SD) rats was developed, and its effectiveness was validated as well.

Methods: Methotrexate, tofacitinib, M9 and fedratinib (internal standard, IS) were separated by gradient elution. The chromatography was performed on an Acquity BEH C18 (2.1 mm × 50 mm, 1.7 μm) column with the mobile phases of acetonitrile and 0.1% formic acid aqueous solution with different proportions at the flow rate of 0.30 mL/min. In the positive ionization mode, the analyzes were detected using a Xevo TQ-S triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometer, with the following mass transition pairs: m/z 313.12 → 148.97 for tofacitinib, m/z 329.10 → 165.00 for M9 and m/z 455.12 → 308.05 for methotrexate.

Results: The obtained results manifested good calibration linearity over the ranges of tofacitinib at 0.1-100 ng/mL, M9 at 0.05-100 ng/mL, and methotrexate at 0.05-100 ng/mL. The lower limit of quantifications (LLOQs) of methotrexate, tofacitinib and M9 were 0.05 ng/mL, 0.1 ng/mL and 0.05 ng/mL, respectively. Intra-day and inter-day accuracy values were confirmed with a range of -6.3% to 12.7%, while intra-day and inter-- day precision values were ≤14.4%. Additionally, recoveries were greater than 86.5% for each compound without significant matrix effects.

Conclusion: The currently established analytical method exhibited great potential for the evaluation of plasma concentrations of methotrexate, tofacitinib and M9 simultaneously, greatly reducing the detection time, which would serve as a supplementary role in formulating dose decisions to achieve personalized treatment, identify drugs that cause adverse reactions and finally, to assess drug-drug interactions on clinical studies.


UPLC-MS/MS, methotrexate, tofacitinib, rheumatoid arthritis, pharmacokinetics, SD rat.


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