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Animal. 2012 Jun;6(6):1023-9. doi: 10.1017/S1751731111002497.

Prednisolone and prednisone neo-formation in bovine urine after sampling.

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Department of Veterinary Sciences and Technologies for Food Safety, University of Milan, Via Celoria 10, 20133 Milan, Italy.


The rise in the frequency of detecting prednisolone in bovine urine from northern Italy has come into focus of attention in recent years. The possibility that neo-formation of prednisolone or that prednisone may occur in urine after collection of samples was therefore investigated. Cow urine collected for official routine controls in Lombardy containing more than 80 ng/ml cortisol, and prednisolone and prednisone below the decision limit (CCα) of the method (0.4 and 0.5 ng/ml, respectively) was used. The C1-2 dehydrogenation of naturally present cortisol and cortisone was checked by incubating urine, both contaminated and uncontaminated with faeces, at 37°C and by collecting samples at 0, 1, 2, 4, 6 and 24 h. The influence of Helix pomatia juice was also investigated in order to determine whether deconjugation could influence the reliability of the results. All samples were analysed by HPLC-MS3 for the presence of cortisol, cortisone, prednisolone and prednisone in negative electrospray ionisation mode, utilising the consecutive reaction monitoring of product ions derived from the formate molecular adduct ([M+HCOO]-). The observed neo-formation of prednisolone shows that inappropriate temperatures in sample storage and processing can result in an incorrect accusation of non-compliance. The faecal contamination of urine, performed with the aim to mimic a collection conducted without the necessary care, moreover, evoked a high increase in prednisolone concentration in two out of seven animals. Moreover, H. pomatia juice had no significant effect on the prednisolone concentration, indicating that this corticosteroid is present in its free form in cow urine.

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