Background: Aminorex, (RS)-5- Phenyl-4,5-dihydro-1,3-oxazol-2-amine, is an amphetamine-like anorectic and in the United States a Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA] Schedule 1 controlled substance. Aminorex in horse urine is usually present as a metabolite of Levamisole, an equine anthelmintic and immune stimulant. Recently, Aminorex identifications have been reported in horse urine with no history or evidence of Levamisole administration. Analysis of the urine samples suggested a botanical source, directing attention to the Brassicaceae plant family, with their contained GlucoBarbarin and Barbarin as possible sources of Aminorex. Since horsepersons face up to a 1 year suspension and a $10,000.00 fine for an Aminorex identification, the existence of natural sources of Aminorex precursors in equine feedstuffs is of importance to both individual horsepersons and the industry worldwide.

Results: Testing the hypothesis that Brassicaceae plants could give rise to Aminorex identifications in equine urine we botanically identified and harvested flowering Kentucky Barbarea vulgaris, (“Yellow Rocket”) in May 2018 in Kentucky and administered the plant orally to two horses. Analysis of post-administration urine samples yielded Aminorex, showing that consumption of Kentucky Barbarea vulgaris can give rise to Aminorex identifications in equine urine.

Conclusions: Aminorex has been identified in post administration urine samples from horses fed freshly harvested flowering Kentucky Barbarea vulgaris, colloquially “Yellow Rocket”. These identifications are consistent with occasional low concentration identifications of Aminorex in equine samples submitted for drug testing. The source of these Aminorex identifications is believed to be the chemically related Barbarin, found as its precursor GlucoBarbarin in Kentucky Barbarea vulgaris and related Brassicaceae plants worldwide.

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Published in Irish Veterinary Journal, v. 72, article no. 15.

© The Author(s) 2019

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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This research was supported by grants from the USDA Agriculture Research Service Specific Cooperative Agreement #58-6401-2-0025 for Forage-Animal Production Research, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association Foundation and by support for the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station as provided by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Published as paper #499 from T Tobin and the Equine Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Toxicology Program at the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center and Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky. The information reported in this paper is part of a project of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station (KAES publication #18-01-068) and is published with the approval of the Director.