Using sweeping micellar electrokinetic chromatography to analyze Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and its major metabolites

Hsiu Li Su, Lan Ing Feng, Hsiu Ping Jen, You-Zung Hsieh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We have applied sweeping micellar electrokinetic chromatography (sweeping-MEKC) to the simultaneous determination of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its major metabolites, 11-hydroxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-OH) and 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH). We monitored the effects of several of the sweeping-MEKC parameters, including the proportion of organic modifier, the concentration of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), the pH, and the sample injection volume, to optimize the separation process. The optimal buffer for the analysis of the three analytes was 25 mM citric acid/disodium hydrogenphosphate (pH 2.6) containing 40% methanol and 75 mM SDS. Under the optimized separation parameters, the enrichment factors for THC, THC-COOH, and THC-OH when using sweeping-MEKC (relative to MEKC) were 77, 139, and 200, respectively. The limits of detection (LODs) for the three compounds in standard solutions ranged from 3.87 to 15.2 ng/mL. We combined the sweeping-MEKC method with solid-phase extraction to successfully detect THC, THC-COOH, and THC-OH in human urine with acceptable repeatability. The LODs of these analytes in urine samples ranged from 17.2 to 23.3 ng/mL. Therefore, this sweeping-MEKC method is useful for determining, with high sensitivity, the amounts of THC and its metabolites in the urine of suspected THC users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3512-3517
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Issue number16
StatePublished - 17 Apr 2009


  • Δ-Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Micellar electrokinetic chromatography
  • On-line preconcentration
  • Sweeping-MEKC

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