Share This Article:

Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry Assay to Detect Ethyl Glucuronide in Human Fingernail: Comparison to Hair and Gender Differences

Abstract Full-Text HTML Download Download as PDF (Size:336KB) PP. 83-91
DOI: 10.4236/ajac.2012.31012    5,749 Downloads   11,029 Views   Citations


Over the past decade, the use of hair specimens for the long-term detection of the alcohol biomarker ethyl glucuronide has been increasing in popularity and usage. We evaluated the usefulness of fingernail clippings as a suitable alterna-tive to hair for ethyl glucuronide detection. A liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method for the detection of ethyl glucuronide in fingernail clippings was fully validated and used to analyze the hair and/or fingernail specimens of 606 college-aged study participants. The limit of detection was 2 pg/mg, the limit of quantitation was 8 pg/mg and the method was linear from 8 to 2000 pg/mg. Intra- and inter-assay imprecision studies at three different concentrations (20, 40, 200 pg/mg) were all within 7.8% and all intra- and inter-assay bias studies at these levels were within 115.1% of target concentration. Ethyl glucuronide levels in fingernail (mean = 29.1 ± 55.6 pg/mg) were higher than ethyl glucuronide levels in hair (mean = 9.48 ± 22.3 pg/mg) and a correlation of the matched pairs was observed (r = 0.552, P < 0.01, n = 529). Evaluating each gender separately revealed that the correlation of male fingernail to male hair was large and significant (r = 0.782, P < 0.01, n = 195) while female hair to female fingernail was small yet sig-nificant (r = 0.249, P < 0.01, n = 334). The study results demonstrated that fingernail may be a suitable alternative to hair for ethyl glucuronide detection and may be the preferred sample type due to the lack of a gender bias.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

J. Jones, M. Jones, C. Plate, D. Lewis, M. Fendrich, L. Berger and D. Fuhrmann, "Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry Assay to Detect Ethyl Glucuronide in Human Fingernail: Comparison to Hair and Gender Differences," American Journal of Analytical Chemistry, Vol. 3 No. 1, 2012, pp. 83-91. doi: 10.4236/ajac.2012.31012.


[1] National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions,” Alcohol Alert, Vol. 70, 2006, pp. 1-6.
[2] K. L. Jones, D. W. Smith, C. H. Ulleland and A. P. Strei- ssguth, “Pattern of Mal-formation in Offspring of Chronic Alcoholic Mothers,” Lancet, Vol. 301, No. 7815, 1973, pp. 1267-1271. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(73)91291-9
[3] K. Pass and G. Mi-zejewski, “Is It Time for Newborn Screening for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: A Com- mentary,” Journal of Pediatric Sciences, Vol. I, 2009, pp. e5.
[4] National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Beyond Hangovers: Un-derstanding Alcohol’s Impact on Your Health,” NIH Publication Number 10-7604, Na- tional Institutes of Health, Rockville, 2010.
[5] T. Babor, J. de la Furente, J. Saunders and M. Grant, “The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test: Guidelines for Use in Primary Health Care,” World Health Organization, Ge-neva, 1992.
[6] M. Selzer, “The Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test: The quest for a New Diagnostic Instrument,” American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 127, No. 12, 1971, pp. 1653- 1658.
[7] R. Hodgson, T. Alwyn, B. John, B. Thom and A. Smith, “The Fast Alcohol Screening Test,” Alcohol and Alcohol ism, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2002, pp. 61-66. doi:10.1093/alcalc/37.1.61
[8] P. Marques, S. Tippetts, J. Allen, M. Javors, C. Al-ling, M. Yegles, F. Pragst and F. Wurst, “Estimating Driver Risk Using Alcohol Biomarkers, Interlock Blood Alcohol Concentration Tests and Psychometric Assess-ments: Ini- tial Descriptives,” Addiction, Vol. 105, 2010, pp. 226-239. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02738.x
[9] F. Wurst, C. Kempter, S. Seidl and A. Alt, “Ethyl Glu- curonide—A Marker of Alcohol Consumption and a Relapse Marker with Clinical and Forensic Implications,” Alcohol and Alcoholism, Vol. 34, No. 1, 1999, pp. 71-77. doi:10.1093/alcalc/34.1.71
[10] G. Skipper, W. Weinmann, A. Thierauf, P. Schaefer, G. Wiesbeck J. Allen, M. Miller and F. Wurst, “Ethyl Glu- curonide: A Biomarker to Identify Alcohol Use by Health Professionals Recovering from Substance Use Disor- ders,” Alcohol and Alcoholism, Vol. 39, No. 5, 2004, pp. 445-449. doi:10.1093/alcalc/agh078
[11] R. Litten, A. Bradley and H. Moss, “Alcohol Bio-Markers in Applied Settings: Recent Advances and Future Re- search Opportunities,” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experi- mental Research, Vol. 34, No. 6, 2010, pp. 955-967. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01170.x
[12] G. Skopp, G. Schmiitt, L. Potsch, P. Dronner, R. Adder- jan and R. Mattern, “Ethyl Glucronide in Human Hair,” Alcohol and Alcoholism, Vol. 35, No. 3, 2000, pp. 283- 285. doi:10.1093/alcalc/35.3.283
[13] C. Jurado, “Diagnosis of Chronic Alcohol Consumption: Hair Analysis for Ethyl Glucu-ronide,” Forensic Science International, Vol. 145, No. 2-3, 2004, pp. 161-166. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2004.04.031
[14] M. Yegles, “Compar-ison of Ethyl Glucuronide and Fatty Acid Ethyl Ester Concen-trations in Hair of Alcoholics, Social Drinkers and Teetotallers,” Forensic Science International, Vol. 145, No. 2-3, 2004, pp. 167-173. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2004.04.032
[15] F. Pragst, M. Rothe, B. Moench, M. Hastedt, S. Herre and D. Simmert, “Combined Use of Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters and Ethyl Glucuronide in Hair for Diagnosis of Alcohol Abuse: Interpretation and AdVantages,” Forensic Science International, Vol. 196, No. 1-3, 2010, pp. 101-110. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.12.028
[16] Society of Hair Testing, “Consensus of the Society of Hair Testing on Hair Testing for Chronic Excessive Alcohol Consumption 2011,” 2011.
[17] S. Hartwig, V. Auwarter and F. Pragst, “Effect of Hair Care and Hair Cosmetics on the Concentrations of Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters in Hair as Markers of Chronically Ele- vated Alcohol Consumption,” Forensic Science Interna- tional, Vol. 131, 2003, pp. 90-97. doi:10.1016/S0379-0738(02)00412-7
[18] J. Gareri, B. Ap-penzeller, P. Walasek and G. Koren, “Impact of Hair-Care Products on FAEE Hair Concentra- tion in Substance Abuse Monitoring,” Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, Vol. 400, No. 1, 2011, pp. 183- 188. doi:10.1007/s00216-011-4685-0
[19] L. Morini, A. Zucchella, A. Polettini, P. Lucia and A. Groppi, “Effect of Bleaching on Ethyl Glucuronide in Hair: An in Vitro Experiment,” Forensic Science Interna- tional, Vol. 198, No. 1, 2010, pp. 23-27. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.11.005
[20] G. Skopp and L. P?tsch, “Drug Screening of Nail Clip- pings to Detect Prenatal Drug Exposure,” Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, Vol. 19, No. 4, 1997, pp. 386-389. doi:10.1097/00007691-199708000-00004
[21] N. Lemos, R. Anderson and J. Robertson, “Nail Analysis for Drugs of Abuse: Extraction and Determination of Cannabis in Fingernails by RIA and GC-MS,” Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Vol. 23, No. 3, 1999, pp. 147-152.
[22] M. Cingolani, S. Scavella, R. Mencarelli, D. Mirtella, R. Froldi and D. Rodriguez, “Simulta-neous Detection and Quantitation of Morphine, 6-Acetylmorphine, and Co- caine in Toenails: Comparison with Hair Analysis,” Jour- nal of Analytical Toxicology, Vol. 28, No. 2, 2004, pp. 128-131.
[23] J. Jenkins and D. A. Engelhart, “Phencyclidine Detection in Nails,” Journal of Analytical Tox-icology, Vol. 30, No. 8, 2006, pp. 643-644.
[24] S. Valente-campos, M. Yonamine, R. Moreau and O. Silva, “Validation of a Method to Detect Cocaine and Its Me- tabolites in Nails by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spec- trometry,” Forensic Science International, Vol. 159, 2006, No. 2-3, pp. 218-222. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2005.07.021
[25] A. Palmeri, S. Pichini, R. Pacifici, P. Zuccaro and A. Lopez, “Drugs in Nails: Phy-siology, Pharmacokinetics and Forensic Toxicology,” Clinical Pharmacokinetics, Vol. 38, No. 2, 2000, pp. 95-110. doi:10.2165/00003088-200038020-00001
[26] S. Hegstad, L. Johnsen, J. Morland and A. Christophersen, “Determination of Ethylglucuronide in Oral Fluid by Utra-Performance Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry,” Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Vol. 33, No. 4, 2009, pp. 204-207.
[27] L. Morini, L. Politi, A. Groppi, C. Stramesi and A. Polet- tini, “Determination of Ethyl Glucuronide in Hair Sam- ples by Liquid Chromatography/Electro-Spray Tandem Mass Spectrometry,” Journal of Mass Spectrometry, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2006, pp. 34-42. doi:10.1002/jms.943
[28] Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evalua- tion Research, Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Guid- ance for Industry: Bioanalytical Method Validation,” 2001. 070107.pdf
[29] Official Journal of the European communities L, Vol. 221, 2002, p. 8.
[30] B. Matuszewski, M. Constanzer and C. Chavez-Eng, “Strategies for the Assessment of Matrix Effect in Quantitative Bioanalytical Methods Based on HPLC-MS/MS,” Analytical Chemistry, Vol. 75, No. 13, 2003, pp. 3019- 3030. doi:10.1021/ac020361s
[31] B. Matuszewski, “Standard Line Slopes as a Measure of a Relative Matrix Effect in Quantitative HPLC-MS Bio- analysis,” Journal of Chromatography B, Vol. 830, No. 2, 2006, pp. 293-300. doi:10.1016/j.jchromb.2005.11.009
[32] N. De Giovanni, G. Donadio and M. Chiarotti, “Ethanol Contamination Leads to Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters in Hair Samples,” Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2008, pp. 156-159.
[33] A. He-lander, I. Olsson and H. Dahl, “Postcollection Synthesis of Ethyl Glucuronide by Bacteria in Urine May Cause False Identification of Alcohol Consumption,” Cli- nical Chemistry, Vol. 53, No. 10, 2007, pp. 1-3. doi:10.1373/clinchem.2007.089482
[34] F. Sporkert, H. Kharbouche, M. Augsburger, C. Klemm and M. Baumgartner, “Positive EtG Findings in Hair as a Result Of a Cosmetic Treatment,” Forensic Science International, 2011, Ahead of Print, doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.10.009
[35] L. Ferreira, T. Binz and M. Yegles, “The Influence of Ethanol Containing Cosmetics on Ethyl Glucuronide Con- centration in Hair,” Forensic Science International, 2011, Ahead of Print. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.10.015
[36] J. Janda, W. Wein-mann, T. Kuehnle, M. Lahode and A. Alt, “Determination of Ethyl Glucuronide in Human Hair by SPE and LC-MS-MS,” Forensic Science International, Vol. 128, No. 1, 2002, pp. 59-65. doi:10.1016/S0379-0738(02)00163-9
[37] R. Krondstrand, L. Brinkhagen and F. Nystrom, “Ethyl Glucuronide in Human Hair after Daily Consumption of 16 or 32 g of Ethanol for 3 Months,” Forensic Science International, 2011, Ahead of Print. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.01.044
[38] L. Politi, L. Morini, F. Leone and A. Polettini, “Ethyl Glucuronide in Hair: Is It a Re-liable Marker of Chronic High Levels of Alcohol Consump-tion?” Addiction, Vol. 101, No. 10, 2006, pp. 1408-1412. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01537.x

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2019 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.