Solid-phase microextraction: investigation of the metabolism of substances that may be abused by inhalation

R. Walker, R. Flanagan, M. Lennard, Graham Mills, V. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purified liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), a mixture of butane, isobutane, and propane, is commonly abused by inhalation. Little is known about the mammalian metabolism of these substances. Metabolism of other hydrocarbons, including n-hexane and cyclohexane, has been studied in vitro using a range of liver preparations, with metabolites analyzed by static headspace techniques. Solid-phase microextraction (SPME) for sampling metabolites in the headspace of incubates of volatile compounds with activated rat liver microsomes is investigated. Cyclohexanol and cyclohexanone were formed from cyclohexane and 1-, 2-, and 3-hexanol and 2-hexanone from n-hexane as predicted. Secondary alcohols are found for the other compounds studied, except for propene and isobutane, together with 2-propanone and 2-butanone from propane and n-butane, respectively. Samples from three individuals who died following LPG abuse contained a range of putative n-butane metabolites: n-butanol, 2-butanol, 2,3- butanediol, 3-hydroxy-2-butanone, and 2,3-butanedione. To our knowledge, the last three compounds have not been proposed as metabolites of n-butane in man. These might be produced through similar metabolic pathways to those of n-hexane and n-heptane. The findings indicate the value of SPME for investigating the metabolism of volatile substances and for detecting and monitoring exposure to these compounds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-393
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Chromatographic Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006


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