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Anal Biochem. 2006 Apr 15;351(2):161-73. Epub 2006 Feb 20.

Determination of atrazine and its metabolites in mouse urine and plasma by LC-MS analysis.

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  • 1Center for Environmental Health Sciences, Department of Basic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA.


Atrazine is a herbicide widely used on agricultural commodities. Existing analytical methods to analyze atrazine and its metabolites in biological matrices have various drawbacks. Thus, further development of such methods will be needed to correlate the growing number of toxicological effects associated with atrazine exposure with the concentrations of this compound and its metabolites in plasma, urine, and tissues. The purpose of this study was to develop a broad and sensitive LC-MS method for the analysis of atrazine and its metabolites in mouse urine and plasma. We were able to simultaneously measure atrazine and its major mammalian metabolites, which include didealkyl atrazine, desisopropyl atrazine, desethyl atrazine, atrazine-glutathione conjugate, and atrazine-mercapturate, using preparation procedures that used small sample volumes of plasma and urine (0.25 and 0.5 ml, respectively). Furthermore, derivatization of analytes prior to analysis was unnecessary. This method was used to analyze plasma and urine samples following single in vivo oral exposures of a limited number of mice to atrazine (doses, 5-250 mg/kg body weight) to demonstrate the utility of this LC-MS method. The data obtained from this study suggest that atrazine is rapidly metabolized in mice. Didealkyl atrazine was the most abundant metabolite detected in the urine and plasma samples (approximately 1000 microM in 24-h urine and approximately 100 microM in plasma following the highest dose of atrazine), with lesser quantities of mono N-dealkylated metabolites and thio conjugates of atrazine observed. We also used this methodology in a preliminary study of cytochrome P450-catalyzed metabolism of atrazine in vitro. The results obtained in this study suggest that this method will be a useful tool for the determination of atrazine and its metabolites in future pharmacokinetic studies and for the subsequent development and refinement of biologically based models of atrazine disposition.

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