Analysis of the tobacco-specific nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol in urine by extraction on a molecularly imprinted polymer column and liquid chromatography/atmospheric pressure ionization tandem mass spectrometry

Anal Chem. 2005 Dec 1;77(23):7639-45. doi: 10.1021/ac058027u.


The tobacco-specific nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL) is present in the urine of tobacco users and, at lower concentrations, in the urine of nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke. NNAL is a valuable biomarker of human exposure to the carcinogenic nitrosamines in tobacco and tobacco smoke, but its presence at low concentrations in urine requires sensitive and often complex analytic procedures. In this report, we describe the development of an efficient method for the analysis of NNAL in human urine using liquid chromatography/atmospheric pressure ionization tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) combined with a novel sample cleanup based on a molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) column developed specifically for this assay. Our results suggest that this combination of MIP column extraction and LC/MS/MS can provide a sensitive and relatively simple analytical method suitable for application to epidemiologic investigations of health risks associated with the exposure to tobacco smoke or SHS in both smokers and nonsmokers.

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Ions / chemistry
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nitrosamines / chemistry*
  • Nitrosamines / urine*
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Pyridines / chemistry*
  • Pyridines / urine*
  • Solid Phase Extraction
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Tobacco / chemistry*


  • Ions
  • Nitrosamines
  • Polymers
  • Pyridines
  • 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butan-1-ol