J Chromatogr A. 2021 Sep 10;1656:462547. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2021.462547. Online ahead of print.
Numerous industrial organic pollutants such as aromates, alkoxyalcohols, other organic solvents and monomers are absorbed, metabolized, and finally excreted in urine mostly as carboxylic acids that are determined as biomarkers of exposure. For a number of these xenometabolites, biological limits (levels of biomarkers in biological material) have been established to prevent damage to human health. Till now, most of the analytical procedures used have been optimized for one or a few analytes. Here, we report a more comprehensive approach enabling rapid GC-MS screening of sixteen acidic biomarkers in urine that are metabolized in the human body from several important industrial chemicals; benzene, toluene, styrene, xylenes, alkoxyalcohols, carbon disulfide, furfural and N,N-dimethylformamide. The new method involves immediate in situ derivatization – liquid liquid microextraction of urine by an ethyl chloroformate-ethanol-chloroform-pyridine medium and GC-MS analysis of the derivatized analytes in the lower organic phase. The xenometabolite set represents diverse chemical structures and some of hippuric and mercapturic acids also provided unusual derivatives that were unambiguously elucidated by means of new ethyl chloroformates labeled with stable isotopes and by synthesis of the missing reference standards. In the next step, an automated routine was developed for GC-MS/MS analysis using a MetaboAuto® sample preparation workstation and the new method was validated for fourteen metabolites over the relevant concentration range of each analyte in the spiked pooled human urine. It shows good linearity (R2 ≥ 0.982), accuracy (from 85% to 120%), precision (from 0.7% to 20%) and recovery (from 89% to 120%). The method performance was further successfully proved by GC-MS/MS analysis of the certified IP45 and RM6009 reference urines. Moreover, we show that the new method opens up the possibility for biomonitoring of combined and cumulative occupational exposures as well as for urinary metabolite profiling of persons exposed to harmful industrial chemicals.
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