3-Methoxytyrosine as an indicator of dopaminergic manipulation in equine plasma

Bethany Keen, Adam Cawley, Brian Reedy, Glenys Noble, Jaymie Loy, Shanlin Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors may mask doping agents, primarily levodopa, administered to racehorses and prolong the stimulating effects of dopaminergic compounds such as dopamine. It is known that 3-methoxytyramine is a metabolite of dopamine and 3-methoxytyrosine is a metabolite of levodopa thus these compounds are proposed to be potential biomarkers of interest. Previous research established a urinary threshold of 4,000 ng/mL for 3-methoxytyramine to monitor misuse of dopaminergic agents. However, there is no equivalent biomarker in plasma. To address this deficiency a rapid protein precipitation method was developed and validated to isolate target compounds from 100 µL equine plasma. A liquid chromatography-high resolution accurate mass (LC-HRAM) method using an IMTAKT Intrada amino acid column provided quantitative analysis of 3-methoxytyrosine (3-MTyr) with lower limit of quantification of 5 ng/mL. Reference population profiling (n = 1129) investigated the expected basal concentrations for raceday samples from equine athletes and showed a right-skewed distribution (skewness = 2.39, kurtosis = 10.65) which resulted from large variation (RSD = 71%) within the data. Logarithmic transformation of the data provided a normal distribution (skewness = 0.26, kurtosis = 3.23) resulting in the proposal of a conservative threshold for plasma 3-MTyr of 1,000 ng/mL at a 99.995% confidence level. A 12-horse administration study of Stalevo® (800 mg L-DOPA, 200 mg carbidopa, 1600 mg entacapone) revealed elevated 3-MTyr concentrations for 24-hours post-administration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123652
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2023


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