Determination of nicotine N-1-glucuronide, a quaternary N-glucuronide conjugate, in human biological samples

Drug Metabol Drug Interact. 2000;16(4):281-97. doi: 10.1515/dmdi.2000.16.4.281.


[Methyl-d3]-N-1-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-(+/-)-nicotinium inner salt ((+/-)-[methyl-d3]nicotine N-1-glucuronide) was synthesized from (+/-)-[methyl-d3]nicotine via reaction with methyl-2,3,4-tri-O-acetyl-1-bromodeoxy-alpha-D-glucopyranouronate, followed by deprotection with 1 M aqueous NaOH and purification by preparative TLC. Nicotine N-glucuronide was identified and determined directly in smokers' urine. A solid phase extraction method was used to partially isolate the material from urine. Subsequent determination was by thermospray-LC/MS using the synthetic d3-labeled nicotine N-glucuronide as internal standard. The identified urinary component had the same retention time as a synthetic standard and gave the same mass spectrum. The thermospray mass spectrum was characterized from the protonated molecular ion (m/z 339) and the protonated aglycone ion (m/z 163). Quantitative results from this direct method were compared with those from an indirect method, which calculated the nicotine glucuronide in the biological sample from the amount of nicotine released following treatment of the sample with the deconjugating enzyme, beta-glucuronidase. On average, the concentration of nicotine N-glucuronide determined by the direct method was 34% greater than that determined by the indirect method. Concentrations of nicotine N-glucuronide in urine ranged from 2.2 to 7.6 nmol/ml with a limit of detection of 1.3 nmol/ml.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Female
  • Glucuronates / urine*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Nicotine / urine*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Smoking / urine*


  • Biomarkers
  • Glucuronates
  • nicotine N-glucuronide
  • Nicotine