Advancements in the gold standard: Measuring steroid sex hormones by mass spectrometry

Steven E. Conklin, Claire E. Knezevic

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Sex hormones, such as testosterone and estrogens, play an essential role in regulating physiological and reproductive development throughout the lifetime of the individual. Although variation in levels of these hormones are observed throughout the distinct stages in life, significant deviations from reference ranges can result in detrimental effects to the individual. Alterations, by either an increase or decrease, in hormone levels are associated with physiological changes, decreased reproductive capabilities, and increased risk for diseases. Hormone therapies (HTs) and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are commonly used to address these factors. In addition to these treatments, gender-affirming therapies, an iteration of HTs, are also a prominent treatment for transgender individuals. Considering that the effectiveness of these treatments relies on achieving therapeutic hormone levels, monitoring of hormones has served as a way of assessing therapeutic efficay. The need for reliable methods to achieve this task has led to great advancements in methods for evaluating hormone concentrations in biological matrices. Although immunoassays are the more widely used method, mass spectrometry (MS)-based methods have proven to be more sensitive, specific, and reliable. Advances in MS technology and its applications for therapeutic hormone monitoring have been significant, hence integration of these methods in the clinical setting is desired. Here, we provide a general overview of HT and ART, and the immunoassay and MS-based methods currently utilized for monitoring sex hormones. Additionally, we highlight recent advances in MS-based methods and discuss future applications and considerations for MS-based hormone assays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-32
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Biochemistry
StatePublished - Aug 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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