The H2-receptor antagonist, ranitidine, is among the most widely used pharmaceuticals to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease and peptic ulcers. While previous studies have demonstrated that amines can form N-nitrosamines when exposed to nitrite at stomach-relevant pH, N-nitrosamine formation from ranitidine, an amine-based pharmaceutical, has not been demonstrated under these conditions. In this work, we confirmed the production of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a potent carcinogen, by nitrosation of ranitidine under stomach-relevant pH conditions in vitro We also evaluated the urinary NDMA excretion attributable to ingestion of clinically used ranitidine doses. Urine samples collected from five female and five male, healthy adult volunteers over 24-h periods before and after consumption of 150mg ranitidine were analyzed for residual ranitidine, ranitidine metabolites, NDMA, total N-nitrosamines and dimethylamine. Following ranitidine intake, the urinary NDMA excreted over 24h increased 400-folds from 110 to 47 600ng, while total N-nitrosamines increased 5-folds. NDMA excretion rates after ranitidine intake equaled or exceeded those observed previously in patients with schistosomiasis, a disease wherein N-nitrosamines are implicated as the etiological agents for bladder cancer. Due to metabolism within the body, urinary NDMA measurements represent a lower-bound estimate of systemic NDMA exposure. Our results suggest a need to evaluate the risks attributable to NDMA associated with chronic consumption of ranitidine, and to identify alternative treatments that minimize exposure to N-nitrosamines.
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