Bromophenol glucuronide and sulfate conjugates have been reported to be products of mammalian metabolism of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a group of additive flame-retardants found ubiquitously in the environment. In order to explore their occurrence in human urine, four water-soluble bromophenol conjugates, namely, 2,4-dibromophenyl glucuronide, 2,4,6-tribromophenyl glucuronide, 2,4-dibromophenyl sulfate, and 2,4,6-tribromophenyl sulfate, were synthesized, purified, and characterized. An analytical protocol using solid-phase extraction and ion-paired liquid chromatography-electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS) quantification has been developed for the direct and simultaneous determination of these glucuronide and sulfate conjugates in human urine samples. The limit of detections for all analytes were below 13 pg mL-1, with 73-101% analyte recovery and 7.2-8.6% repeatability. The method was applied to analyze 20 human urine samples collected randomly from voluntary donors in Hong Kong SAR, China. All the samples were found to contain one or more of the bromophenol conjugates, with concentration ranging from 0.13-2.45 μg g-1 creatinine. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first analytical protocol for the direct and simultaneous monitoring of these potential phase II metabolites of PBDEs in human urine. Our results have also suggested the potential of these bromophenol conjugates in human urine to be convenient molecular markers for the quantification of population exposure to PBDEs.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Analytical Chemistry