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J Chromatogr B Biomed Sci Appl. 1999 Feb 19;723(1-2):157-72.

Evidence for the presence of endogenous 19-norandrosterone in human urine.

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LDH-LNR, Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire, Nantes, France.


In 1997, in the scope of antidoping control in sport, a not inconsiderable number of urine analysed by official laboratories revealed the presence of 19-nortestosterone (19-NT: 17beta-hydroxyestr-4-en-3-one) metabolites: 19-norandrosterone (19-NA: 3alpha-hydroxy-5alpha-estran-17-one) and 19-noretiocholanolone (19-NE: 3alpha-hydroxy-5beta-estran-17-one). These repeated results on a short period of time generated some investigations and especially the verification of the possible production of these metabolites by an unknown endogenous route in adult entire male. Some experiences were led on different persons known to be non-treated with steroids and more precisely with nandrolone. Extractive methods were developed focusing on their selectivity, i.e. searching to eliminate at best matrix interferences from the target analytes. Gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (quadrupole and magnetic instruments) was used to detect, identify and quantify the suspected signals. Two types of derivatization (TMS and TBDMS), a semi-preparative HPLC as well as co-chromatography proved unambiguously the presence, in more than 50% of the analysed urine (n = 40), of 19-NA at concentrations between 0.05 and 0.60 ng/ml. 19-NE was not detected with the developed methods (LOD<0.02 ng/ml). Experiments led on athletes showed that after a prolonged intense effort, the 19-NA concentration can be increased by a factor varying between 2 and 4. Even if some complementary researches have to be done in order to determine the maximal physiological level of 19-NA and 19-NE, these results should considerably change the strategy of antidoping laboratories.

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