Profiling of mercapturic acids of acrolein and acrylamide in human urine after consumption of potato crisps

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2012 Dec;56(12):1825-37. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201200323. Epub 2012 Oct 27.


Scope: Acrolein (AC) and acrylamide (AA) are food contaminants generated by heat treatment. We studied human exposure after consumption of potato crisps by monitoring excretion of mercapturic acids (MAs) in urine.

Methods and results: MA excretion was monitored in human urine collected up to 72 h after ingestion of a test meal of experimental (study 1: 1 mg AA/150 g) or commercially available (study 2: 44 μg AA plus 4.6 μg AC/175 g) potato crisps. MA contents were analysed after purification via SPE using HPLC-ESI-MS/MS. On the basis of the area under the curve values of MAs excreted in urine, the total excretion of AC-related MAs exceeded that of AA-related MAs up to 12 times in study 1 and up to four times in study 2. Remarkably, AC content of potato crisps of study 2 was found to be only about 1/10 the AA content, as determined by isotope dilution headspace GC/MS.

Conclusion: Our results indicate substantially higher exposure to AC from potato crisps than to AA. Total AC in such foods may encompass bioavailable AC forms not detected by headspace GC/MS. Both findings may also apply to other heat processed foods.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / urine*
  • Acrolein / urine*
  • Acrylamide / urine*
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cooking / methods*
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Food Contamination
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Isotopes / urine
  • Male
  • Solanum tuberosum / chemistry*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Biomarkers
  • Isotopes
  • Acrylamide
  • Acrolein
  • Creatinine
  • Acetylcysteine