Use of an alternative signature peptide during development of a LC-MS/MS assay of plasma nivolumab levels applicable for multiple species

Mayu Ohuchi, Shigehiro Yagishita, Kazuaki Taguchi, Yasushi Goto, Masaru Fukahori, Yuki Enoki, Takashi Shimada, Masakazu Yamaguchi, Kazuaki Matsumoto, Akinobu Hamada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, immune checkpoint inhibitors, including anti-programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) antibodies, have dramatically changed treatment strategies for several cancers. In pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic studies, experiments using a variety of animal species are assumed. We have identified optimal multiple reaction monitoring transitions for signature candidate peptides of nivolumab in human, mouse, and rat plasma and developed a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method to quantify nivolumab (an anti-PD-1 antibody) using trastuzumab as the internal standard. Calibration curves were linear in the range of 1–200 µg/mL. The intra- and inter-day precision and accuracy in human plasma fulfilled Food and Drug Administration guideline criteria for bioanalytical validation. There was no need to change the measurement method in mouse plasma. On the other hand, in rat plasma, an interference peak was observed at a retention time similar to that of the surrogate peptide ASGITFSNSGMHWVR (550.75 > 661.50) employed in human and mouse plasma. Therefore, we confirmed that ASQSVSSYLAWYQQKPGQAPR (785.0 > 940.2) can be used as an alternate nivolumab surrogate peptide in rat plasma at the same concentration range as used in human and mouse plasma. Using our method, the concentration range and a gradual increase in trough value were confirmed in clinical samples from two antibody-treated patients, including one with gastric cancer and one with non-small-cell lung cancer. The time course and blood concentration transition also were evaluated in nivolumab administration experiments in mouse and rat. The present study showed that the selection of the optimal peptide is essential for accurate LC-MS/MS measurement of nivolumab concentration in human, mouse, and rat plasma. The method developed here is expected to be of use in non-clinical and clinical pharmacokinetic studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122489
JournalJournal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 1


  • Human
  • Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry
  • Mouse
  • Nivolumab
  • Pharmacokinetic study
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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