Rapid Screening of Urinary 1-Hydroxypyrene Glucuronide by Multisegment Injection-Capillary Electrophoresis-Tandem Mass Spectrometry: A High-Throughput Method for Biomonitoring of Recent Smoke Exposures

Anal Chem. 2020 Oct 6;92(19):13558-13564. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c03212. Epub 2020 Sep 22.


Urinary 1-hydroxypyrene (HP) is a widely used biomarker of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure relevant for biomonitoring the deleterious health impacts from tobacco smoke and ambient air pollution, as well as the hazards of certain occupations. Conventional methods for urinary HP analysis based on liquid chromatography with native fluorescence detection or tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) are limited by low sample throughput and complicated sample workup protocols that are prone to bias. Herein, we introduce a high throughput method to directly analyze the intact glucuronide conjugate of HP (HP-G) in human urine after a simple acidified ether extraction procedure when using multisegment injection-capillary electrophoresis-tandem mass spectrometry (MSI-CE-MS/MS). Multiplexed analyses of 13 independent urine extracts are achieved in a single run (<3 min/sample) with stringent quality control while avoiding enzyme deconjugation and precolumn chemical derivatization. Method validation demonstrates good technical precision (CV = 7.7%, n = 45) and accuracy with a mean recovery of (93 ± 3%) for urinary HP-G at three concentration levels with adequate detection limits (7 ng/L, S/N = 3). An interlaboratory method comparison of urine samples collected from firefighters deployed in the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire also confirms good mutual agreement with an acceptable negative bias (mean bias = 15%, n = 55) when measuring urinary HP-G by MSI-CE-MS/MS as compared to total hydrolyzed urinary HP by GC-MS due to the low residual levels of free HP and its sulfate conjugate. This multiplexed separation platform is optimal for large-scale biomonitoring studies of air pollution relevant to global health as well as occupational smoke exposures in firefighters susceptible to dermal PAH absorption when using personal protective equipment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Monitoring*
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary
  • Glucuronates / urine*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Pyrenes / urine*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis*
  • Tobacco Smoking / adverse effects*


  • 1-hydroxypyrene-glucuronide
  • Glucuronates
  • Pyrenes
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution