Formation of 19-norsteroids by in situ demethylation of endogenous steroids in stored urine samples

Steroids. 2005 Jul;70(8):499-506. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2005.01.005. Epub 2005 Mar 29.


The formation of 19-norsteroids by demethylation of endogenous steroids in stored urine samples was observed. Suspicious urine samples (i.e. containing trace amounts of 19-norandrosterone and 19-noretiocholanolone) were selected and spiked with deuterated analogues of androsterone and etiocholanolone at concentrations corresponding to high endogenous levels (4 microg/mL). After incubation, respective 19-norsteroids (19-norandrosterone-d4 and 19-noretiocholanolone-d5) were identified in these samples by high-resolution mass spectrometry. The transformation of the 5 beta-isomer (etiocholanolone) yields about three-fold higher concentrations, compared to the 5 alpha-isomer. A significant temperature dependence was observed by comparison of reaction kinetics at room temperature (23+/-2 degrees C) and 37 degrees C. Concentrations of 19-norandrosterone-d4 and 19-noretiocholanolone-d5, respectively, were 2.7 and 3.6 times higher at elevated temperature. The conversion of androsterone-d4 to 19-norandrosterone-d4 did not exceed a relative amount of 0.1%. Incubation of the urine samples with androsterone-d4-glucuronide led to the production of 19-norandrosterone-d4-glucuronoide. A partial stabilization was observed after addition of metabolic inhibitors (e.g. EDTA). The application of the incubation experiments described may contribute to the clarification of adverse analytical findings regarding low levels of 19-norsteroid metabolites.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biotransformation / drug effects
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control*
  • Estranes / metabolism
  • Estranes / urine
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Norsteroids / metabolism
  • Norsteroids / urine*
  • Reference Standards
  • Steroids / chemistry*
  • Steroids / metabolism
  • Steroids / urine*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / standards
  • Temperature
  • Urine / chemistry*


  • Estranes
  • Norsteroids
  • Steroids
  • 19-norandrosterone