Mass spectrometric analysis of tobacco-specific nitrosamine-DNA adducts in smokers and nonsmokers

Chem Res Toxicol. May-Jun 1991;4(3):364-8. doi: 10.1021/tx00021a017.


A gas chromatography, negative ion chemical ionization mass spectrometry (GC-NICI-MS) based assay for tobacco-specific nitrosamine adducts of DNA is described. The assay is based on the observation that acid hydrolysis of DNA from animals treated with tobacco-specific nitrosamines releases 4-hydroxy-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (HPB). HPB and the internal standard [4,4-D2]HPB are derivatized with pentafluorobenzoyl chloride and the resulting HPB-pentafluorobenzoate is purified by high-performance liquid chromatography prior to GC-NICI-MS analysis. DNA from human peripheral lung and tracheobronchial tissue, collected at autopsy, was analyzed for acid-released HPB. The mean HPB level (fmol/mg of DNA) for peripheral lung DNA was 11 +/- 16 (SD, n = 9) for smokers and 0.9 +/- 2.3 (n = 8) for nonsmokers. Mean adduct levels in tracheobronchus were 16 +/- 18 (n = 4) for smokers and 0.9 +/- 1.7 (n = 4) for nonsmokers. These are the first measurements of tobacco-specific nitrosamine-DNA adducts in humans. Further studies comparing the levels of DNA and globin adducts will provide a better understanding of the metabolic activation of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in humans and may provide a more accurate indication of an individual's risk of developing tobacco-related cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Chromatography / methods
  • DNA / analysis*
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrosamines / analysis*
  • Nitrosamines / metabolism
  • Smoking / metabolism*
  • Tritium


  • Nitrosamines
  • Tritium
  • DNA