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Recent analytical methods for cephalosporins in biological fluids.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Pharmacology


Since 1980, RP chromatography has been the principal analytical technique used for cephalosporins. This technology offers selectivity, accuracy, and ease of use. Most of the methods rely on protein precipitation and, to a lesser extent, solid-phase isolation or extraction procedures. The proper selection of a method depends on the analytical constraints imposed by the overall objective of the study. For example, pharmacokinetic datum interpretation mandates that the method be validated and provide specific and accurate results. LC is the preferred technique, since it not only meets these specifications but may also distinguish between the drug and metabolites. Those chromatographic methods which quantify several different cephalosporins are not desirable for pharmacokinetic datum interpretation, since accuracy and precision are usually compromised in order that many different drugs may be quantified in a single analysis. The proper selection of sample preparation method is dependent on the presence of potential interferences and the acceptable lower limit of quantitation. Protein precipitation methods offer ease of sample preparation but may suffer from nonselectivity. Solid-phase isolation and extraction procedures may increase selectivity and improve the limit of quantitation. Although LC provides specific and accurate results, clinical laboratories may prefer to use the less specific methods for therapeutic drug monitoring. In this case, microbiological, enzymatic, and fluorimetric methods offer improved sample throughput but less specificity. However, these methods should not be used for drugs that may have a low margin of safety or if the patient is on multiple-antibiotic therapy. Future methods may involve incorporating solid-phase isolation columns to enhance the specificity of chromatographic, microbiological, enzymatic, and fluorescence methods. Advancements in microbore column technology may allow improvements in the selectivity and sensitivity of LC methods. Many investigators prefer to use simple protein precipitation procedures for sample preparation because of sample throughput constraints. However, advances in robotic sample preparation may allow the more cumbersome solid-phase isolation or extraction techniques to be used to improved sample throughput and specificity.

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