Development and validation of a UPLC-MS/MS method for the quantification of sugars and non-nutritive sweeteners in human urine

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High-intensity sweeteners (‘sweeteners’), such as sucralose, saccharine, acesulfame, cyclamate and steviol, are replacing sugars in many food products, but biomarker-based data on their population-wide exposure, as well as analytical methods that can quantify urinary concentrations of sugars and sweeteners simultaneously, are lacking. Here, we developed and validated an ultra-pressure liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) method to quantify glucose, sucrose, fructose, sucralose, saccharine, acesulfame, cyclamate and steviol glucuronide in human urine. Urine samples were prepared by a simple dilution step containing the internal standards in water and methanol. Separation was achieved on a Shodex Asahipak NH2P-40 hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) column using gradient elution. The analytes were detected using electrospray ionization in negative ion mode, and selective reaction monitoring was optimized using the [M−H]- ions. Calibration curves ranged between 34 and 19,230 ng/mL for glucose and fructose, and 1.8 to 1,026 ng/mL for sucrose and the sweeteners. The method has acceptable accuracy and precision, which depends on the application of appropriate internal standards. Storage of urine samples in lithium monophosphate gives the best overall analytical performance, and storage at room temperature without any preservatives should be avoided since this leads to reduced glucose and fructose concentrations. With the exception of fructose, all analytes were stable throughout 3 freeze–thaw cycles. The validated method was applied to human urine samples, demonstrating quantifiable concentrations of the analytes which were in the expected range. It is concluded that the method has acceptable performance to quantitatively determine dietary sugars and sweeteners in human urine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123741
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • Biomarker
  • Fructose
  • Sucrose
  • Sweeteners
  • Urine
  • Validation


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