Metabolomics Approach to Anabolic Steroid Urine Profiling of Bovines Treated with Prohormones

J.C.W. Rijk, A. Lommen, M.L. Essers, M.J. Groot, J. van Hende, T.G. Doeswijk, M.W.F. Nielen

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62 Citations (Scopus)


In livestock production, illegal use of natural steroids is hard to prove because metabolites are either unknown or not significantly above highly fluctuating endogenous levels. In this work we outlined for the first time a metabolomics based strategy for anabolic steroid urine profiling. Urine profiles of controls and bovines treated with the prohormones dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and pregnenolone were analyzed with ultraperformance liquid chromatography in combination with time-of-flight accurate mass spectrometry (UPLC¿TOFMS). The obtained full scan urinary profiles were compared using sophisticated preprocessing and alignment software (MetAlign) and multivariate statistics, revealing hundreds of mass signals which were differential between untreated control and prohormone-treated animals. Moreover, statistical testing of the individual accurate mass signals showed that several mass peak loadings could be used as biomarkers for DHEA and pregnenolone abuse. In addition, accurate mass derived elemental composition analysis and verification by standards or Orbitrap mass spectrometry demonstrated that the observed differential masses are most likely steroid phase I and glucuronide metabolites excreted as a direct result from the DHEA and pregnenolone administration, thus underlining the relevance of the findings from this untargeted metabolomics approach. It is envisaged that this approach can be used as a holistic screening tool for anabolic steroid abuse in bovines and possibly in sports doping as well
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6879-6888
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • tandem mass-spectrometry
  • liquid-chromatography
  • androgen bioassay
  • dehydroepiandrosterone
  • metabolites
  • validation
  • cattle
  • ratio


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