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Alcohol. 2010 Sep;44(6):507-14. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2010.05.001. Epub 2010 Jul 3.

Influence of ethanol dose and pigmentation on the incorporation of ethyl glucuronide into rat hair.

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Toxicology and Forensic Chemistry Unit, University Center of Legal Medicine, Lausanne - Geneva, CH-1011 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) is a minor and specific metabolite of ethanol. It is incorporated into growing hair, allowing a retrospective detection of alcohol consumption. However, the suitability of quantitative EtG measurements in hair to determine the quantity of alcohol consumed has not clearly been demonstrated yet. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of ethanol dose and hair pigmentation on the incorporation of EtG into rat hair. Ethanol and EtG kinetics in blood were investigated after a single administration of ethanol. Eighteen rats were divided into four groups receiving 0 (control group), 1, 2, or 3g ethanol/kg body weight. Ethanol was administered on 4 consecutive days per week for 3 weeks by intragastric route. Twenty-eight days after the initial ethanol administration, newly grown hair was shaved. Pigmented and nonpigmented hair were analyzed separately by gas chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry. Blood samples were collected within 12h after the ethanol administration. EtG and ethanol blood levels were measured by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry and headspace gas chromatography-flame ionization detector, respectively. No statistically significant difference was observed in EtG concentrations between pigmented and nonpigmented hair (Spearman's rho=0.95). Thus, EtG incorporation into rat hair was not affected by hair pigmentation. Higher doses of ethanol resulted in greater blood ethanol area under the curve of concentration versus time (AUC) and in greater blood EtG AUC. A positive correlation was found between blood ethanol AUC and blood EtG AUC (Spearman's rho=0.84). Increased ethanol administration was associated with an increased EtG concentration in hair. Blood ethanol AUC was correlated with EtG concentration in hair (Pearson's r=0.89). EtG concentration in rat hair appeared to reflect the EtG concentration in blood. Ethanol was metabolized at a median rate of 0.22 g/kg/h, and the median elimination half-life of EtG was 1.21 h. This study supports that the bloodstream is likely to display a major role in the hair EtG incorporation.

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