Colistin sulfate, composed of a mixture of colistin A sulfate (CLA) and colistin B sulfate (CLB), is available for treating life-threatening infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. In this study, the CLA and CLB were quantified separately. Colistin sulfate was extracted from rat plasma with a solid-phase extraction C18 cartridge and reacted with 4-fluoro-7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazole (NBD-F), and the fluorescent derivatives were subjected to reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography analysis and used to investigate the pharmacokinetics of CLA and CLB in rat plasma. The recovery rates of CLA and CLB were 41.2 ± 4.4 and 45.5 ± 3.1%, respectively. The recovery rate calculated from the total area of CLA and CLB was 43.9 ± 3.6%. When 2 mm NBD-F and 10 mm boric acid buffer (pH 9.5) were added to colistin sulfate, the highest recovery rate was obtained. The best heating time was 5 min at 60°C. The lower limits of quantification for CLA, CLB and the total area of CLA and CLB were 0.05, 0.05 and 0.1 μg/mL; the coefficients of variations were 13.5, 14.5 and 14.1%, respectively. This method was found to have acceptable linearity, precision and accuracy, and has been successfully applied to a pharmacokinetic study in rat plasma.
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