Analysis of butadiene urinary metabolites by liquid chromatography-triple quadrupole mass spectrometry

J Anal Toxicol. 2004 Apr;28(3):168-73. doi: 10.1093/jat/28.3.168.


1,3-Butadiene (BD) is a monomer produced in petrochemical production facilities and from several combustion sources. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has defined BD as a probable human carcinogen. Methods for assessing exposure and internal dose are therefore of critical interest, and one technique is the measurement of urinary metabolites. Here we describe methods for measuring two urinary metabolites, N-acetyl-S-(3,4-dihydroxybutyl)-L-cysteine (referred to as MI) and an isomeric mixture of the regio- and stereoisomers (R)/(S)-N-acetyl-S-(1-(hydroxymethyl)-2-propen-yl)-L-cysteine and (R)/(S)-N-acetyl-S-(2-hydroxy-3-butenyl)-L-cysteine (referred to as MII). The method is based on isolation of the metabolites by solid-phase extraction and measurement using liquid chromatography and triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (LC-MS(3)). The LC-MS(3) allowed good selectivity with minimal sample preparation. Assay accuracy was within 10% or better, with substantial improvement in accuracy accompanying the commercial availability of deuterated internal standards for both compounds. Assay precision and linearity passed rigorous validation criteria, and precision-based limits of quantitation values were 12 and 1 ng/mL for MI and MII, respectively. Data are shown from analysis of human urine from occupationally exposed individuals and rat urine from BD exposures conducted to investigate rodent metabolic profiles. Both of these data sets clearly show that this assay can discern previously described relationships between BD exposure and the production of MI/MII.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Acetylcysteine / urine*
  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / pharmacokinetics*
  • Animals
  • Biological Assay
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Butadienes / administration & dosage
  • Butadienes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isomerism
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Stereoisomerism


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Biomarkers
  • Butadienes
  • Acetylcysteine