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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

Published in Association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)

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Ed. by Gillery, Philippe / Lackner, Karl J. / Lippi, Giuseppe / Melichar, Bohuslav / Payne, Deborah A. / Schlattmann, Peter / Tate, Jillian R.

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Volume 45, Issue 8 (Aug 2007)


Pitfalls in measuring the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl glycerol in biological samples

Michael Vogeser
  • 1Institute of Clinical Chemistry, Hospital of the University of Munich, Munich, Germany
/ Gustav Schelling
  • 2Department of Anesthesiology, Hospital of the University of Munich, Munich, Germany
Published Online: 2007-08-09 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2007.197


Background: The endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) undergoes spontaneous isomerization to biologically inactive 1-AG. This effect has not been adequately addressed in previous studies that reported 2-AG concentrations in biological samples.

Methods: Liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was used for 1-AG and 2-AG analyses.

Results: Identical collision-induced disintegration spectra were found for 1-AG and 2-AG. For specific detection of both compounds, which share a common mass transition, baseline chromatographic separation is mandatory, even when applying MS/MS technology with its generally high detection specificity. When using standard chromatographic conditions with the very short run times typically used in LC-MS/MS methods, co-elution of 2-AG with 1-AG, which is present in human serum, causes false 2-AG results.

Conclusions: Our data highlight that the analytical specificity of MS/MS can be limited by interference from isobaric isomers with identical disintegration patterns. The specificity of this technology must be carefully evaluated for each individual application.

Clin Chem Lab Med 2007;45:1023–5.

Keywords: 1-arachidonoyl glycerol (1-AG); 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG); endocannabinoids; interference; isomers; liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)

About the article

Corresponding author: Michael Vogeser, MD, Institute of Clinical Chemistry, Hospital of the University of Munich, Marchioninistraße 15, 81377 Munich, Germany Phone: +49-89-70953221, Fax: +49-89-70953240,

Received: 2007-02-01

Accepted: 2007-05-03

Published Online: 2007-08-09

Published in Print: 2007-08-01

Citation Information: Clinical Chemical Laboratory Medicine, ISSN (Online) 14374331, ISSN (Print) 14346621, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2007.197. Export Citation

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