Determination of six hydroxyalkyl mercapturic acids in human urine using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (HILIC-ESI-MS/MS).

Research paper by Elisabeth E Eckert, Hans H Drexler, Thomas T Göen

Indexed on: 22 Sep '09Published on: 22 Sep '09Published in: Journal of Chromatography B


Mercapturic acids are increasingly used as biomarkers for exposure to certain carcinogenic substances. Glycidol, ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, acrolein and 1,3-butadiene are important intermediates of toxicological concern used in the industrial production of various chemicals. The main urinary metabolites of these alkylating substances are hydroxyalkyl mercapturic acids. Therefore, we developed and validated an analytical method for the simultaneous determination of six hydroxyalkyl mercapturic acids in human urine after solid phase extraction. The mercapturic acids were separated using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) and quantified by tandem mass spectrometry using isotopically labelled internal standards. The developed method enables for the first time the determination of 2,3-dihydroxypropyl mercapturic acid (DHPMA), a metabolite of glycidol, in human urine. Additionally, the mercapturic acids of ethylene oxide (hydroxyethyl mercapturic acid, HEMA), propylene oxide (2-hydroxypropyl mercapturic acid, 2-HPMA), acrolein (3-hydroxypropyl mercapturic acid, 3-HPMA) as well as of 1,3-butadiene(3,4-dihydroxybutyl mercapturic acid, DHBMA and monohydroxy-3-butenyl mercapturic acid, MHBMA) can be determined. The limits of detection range from 3.0 to 7.0 μg/L. Intra- and inter-day precision was determined to range from 1% to 9%. Due to the good accuracy and precision and the low limits of detection the developed method is well suited for the determination of occupational exposure to alkylating substances as well as for the determination of background concentrations of the respective mercapturic acids in the general population.