Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Sarah Rutan, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Maryanne Collinson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Ashton Cropp, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Adam Hawkridge, Ph.D.


Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) encompasses several disorders related to disruptions in the adrenal steroid production pathway. These disruptions may cause virilization of the external female sex organs, incorrect gender assignment, precocious puberty, and in the most severe form, may cause life-threatening salt wasting and adrenal crisis if not detected and treated early in the newborn period.

17α-Hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) is the primary target for immunofluorescence detection of CAH from dried blood spots in newborn screening (NBS). Unfortunately, current immunoassay techniques for the detection of CAH suffer from high false positive rates. The primary factors contributing to false positive determinations can include the natural increase of 17-OHP due to stress stimuli as well as cross-reactivity of the immunoassay antibody with other hormones and endogenous compounds in blood.

Analysis of the adrenal steroid profile and corresponding analyte ratios using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)or ultra-high pressure liquid chromatography (UHPLC)combined with tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) has been shown to be a sensitive and selective technique for the significant reduction of the false positive reporting rate for CAH in newborn screening.

In working toward optimization, validation, and implementation of an HPLC-MS/MS steroid profile for use by Virginia’s Newborn Screening laboratory as a 2nd tier analysis for CAH screening, a commercially-available core-shell HPLC column with a biphenyl stationary phase was determined to offer adequate retention and selectivity to achieve baseline resolution of isobaric target analytes under rapid reversed phase gradient conditions. Method linearity, precision, and accuracy were assessed using enriched dried blood spot materials. Double-blinded analyses of over 300 newborn dried blood spot specimens were used to determine clinical sensitivity and specificity of the assay, which is projected to substantially reduce the false positive reporting rate for CAH screening while meeting target sample turnaround times.


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