Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a chronic neurobehavioral ailment and is prevalent in pregnancy. OUD is commonly treated with methadone or buprenorphine (BUP). Pregnancy is known to alter the pharmacokinetics of drugs and may lead to changes in drug exposure and response. A simple, specific, and sensitive analytical method for measuring the parent drug and its metabolites is valuable for assessing the impact of pregnancy on drug exposure. A new liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometric method that utilized a simple protein precipitation procedure for sample preparation and four deuterated internal standards for quantification was developed and validated for BUP and its major metabolites (norbuprenorphine [NBUP], buprenorphine-glucuronide [BUP-G], and norbuprenorphine-glucuronide [NBUP-G]) in human plasma. The standard curve was linear over the concentration range of 0.05-100 ng/mL for BUP and NBUP, and 0.1-200 ng/mL for BUP-G and NBUP-G. Intra- and inter-day bias and precision were within ±15% of nominal values for all the analytes. Quality controls assessed at four levels showed high recovery consistently for all the analytes with minimal matrix effect. Adequate analyte stability was observed at various laboratory conditions tested. Overall, the developed method is simple, sensitive, accurate and reproducible, and was successfully applied for the quantification of BUP and its metabolites in plasma samples collected from pregnant women in a clinical study assessing BUP exposure during OUD treatment.

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