In vivo biotransformation of 17 alpha-methyltestosterone in the horse revisited: identification of 17-hydroxymethyl metabolites in equine urine by capillary gas chromatography/mass spectrometry

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2003;17(4):320-9. doi: 10.1002/rcm.909.


The in vivo phase I biotransformation of 17 alpha-methyltestosterone in the horse leads to the formation of a complex mixture of regio- and stereoisomeric C(20)O(2), C(20)O(3) and C(20)O(4) metabolites, excreted in urine as glucuronide and sulphate phase II conjugates. The major pathways of in vivo metabolism are the reduction of the A-ring (di- and tetrahydro), epimerisation at C-17 and oxidations mainly at C-6 and C-16. Some phase I metabolites have been identified previously by positive ion electron ionisation capillary gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/EI + MS) mainly from the characteristic fragmentation patterns of their methyloxime-trimethylsilyl ether (MO-TMS), enol-TMS or TMS ether derivatives. Following oral administration of 17 alpha-methyltestosterone to two castrated thoroughbred male horses, the glucuronic acid conjugates excreted in post-administration urine samples were selectively hydrolysed by E. coli beta-glucuronidase enzymes. Unconjugated metabolites and the steroid aglycones obtained after enzymatic deconjugation were isolated from urine by solid-phase extraction, derivatised as MO-TMS ethers and analysed by GC/EI + MS. In addition to some of the known metabolites previously identified from the characteristic mass spectral fragmentation patterns of 17 alpha-methyl steroids, some isobaric compounds exhibiting a diagnostic loss of 103 mass units from the molecular ions with subsequent losses of trimethylsilanol or methoxy groups and an absence of the classical D-ring fragment ion were detected. From an interpretation of their mass spectra, these compounds were identified as 17-hydroxymethyl metabolites, formed in vivo in the horse by oxidation of the 17-methyl moiety of 17 alpha-methyltestosterone. This study reports on the GC/EI + MS identification of these novel 17-hydroxymethyl C(20)O(3) and C(20)O(4) metabolites of 17 alpha-methyltestosterone excreted in thoroughbred horse urine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Horses / urine*
  • Male
  • Methyltestosterone / analogs & derivatives
  • Methyltestosterone / metabolism*
  • Methyltestosterone / pharmacokinetics
  • Methyltestosterone / urine*
  • Molecular Structure


  • Methyltestosterone