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Development and validation of a bioanalytical assay based on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry for measuring biomarkers of exposure of alternative plasticizers in human urine and serum

Been, Frederic, Malarvannan, Govindan, Bastiaensen, Michiel, Yin, Shanshan, van Nuijs, Alexander L.N., Covaci, Adrian
Talanta 2019 v.198 pp. 230-236
biomarkers, blood serum, environmental monitoring, guidelines, humans, liquid chromatography, metabolites, phthalates, plasticizers, solid phase extraction, tandem mass spectrometry, toxicity, urine
Alternative plasticizers (APs) have been increasingly used in the last decade to replace conventional phthalate esters, in particular di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), due to the toxicity of the latter. However, there is currently very little data about the toxicity of and exposure to APs. No method exists so far for the analysis of multiple exposure biomarkers. The objective of this work consisted in developing a simple bioanalytical procedure for the analysis of multiple exposure biomarkers of APs in human urine and serum. Focus was set on metabolites of di(2-propylheptyl) phthalate (DPrHpP), di(isononyl)cyclohexane-1,2-dicarboxylate (DINCH), di(2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate (DEHTP) and di-2-ethylhexyl adipate (DEHA). A sample preparation protocol was developed and optimized using Oasis HLB solid-phase extraction (SPE) cartridges. Subsequently, an instrumental method based on liquid-chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was optimized. Following established guidelines, the sample preparation and instrumental methods were validated in terms of recovery, matrix effects, carry-over, linearity, limits of quantification, within- and between-run precision and trueness. Obtained results were satisfactory for all compounds except for one of the metabolites of DEHA (i.e., mono(2-ethylhexyl) adipate (MEHA)). A pilot biomonitoring study was carried out to assess the method's ability to detect and quantify target analytes in human urine and serum. In urine, most analytes could be detected with frequencies ranging from 8% for mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) adipate (OH-MEHA) and cyclohexane-1,2-dicarboxylic mono hydroxyisononyl ester (OH-MINCH) to 92% for mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) adipate (oxo-MEHA), whilst most compounds could not be detected in serum, except for mono(2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate (MEHTP) and mono-(2-propyl-6-hydroxyheptyl) phthalate (OH-MPrHpP) which were detected in all samples. The obtained results show that the developed method can be used to simultaneously analyse multiple exposure biomarkers to APs in human urine and serum.