We have investigated the detection, confirmation, and metabolism of the beta-adrenergic agonist ractopamine administered as Paylean to the horse. A Testing Components Corporation enzyme-linked imunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit for ractopamine displayed linear response between 1.0 and 100 ng/ml, with an 1-50 of 10 ng/ml, and an effective screening limit of detection of 50 ng/mL. The kit was readily able to detect ractopamine equivalents in unhydrolyzed urine up to 24 h following a 300-mg oral dose. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) confirmation comprised glucuronidase treatment, solid-phase extraction, and trimethylsilyl derivatization, with selected-ion monitoring of ractopamine-tris(trimethylsilane) (TMS) m/z 267, 250, 179, and 502 ions. Quantitation was elaborated in comparison to a 445 Mw isoxsuprine-bis(TMS) internal standard monitored simultaneously. The instrumental limit of detection, defined as that number of ng on column for which signal-to-noise ratios for one or more diagnostic ions fell below a value of three, was 0.1 ng, corresponding to roughly 5 ng/mL in matrix. Based on the quantitation ions for ractopamine standards extracted from urine, standard curves showed a linear response for ractopamine concentrations between 10 and 100 ng/mL with a correlation coefficient r > 0.99, whereas standards in the concentration range of 10-1000 ng/mL were fit to a second-order regression curve with r > 0.99. The lower limit of detection for ractopamine in urine, defined as the lowest concentration at which the identity of ractopamine could be confirmed by comparison of diagnostic MS ion ratios, ranged between 25 and 50 ng/mL. Urine concentration of parent ractopamine 24 h post-dose was measured at 360 ng/mL by GC-MS after oral administration of 300 mg. Urinary metabolites were identified by electrospray ionization (+) tandem quadrupole mass spectrometry and were shown to include glucuronide, methyl, and mixed methyl-glucuronide conjugates. We also considered the possibility that an unusual conjugate added 113 amu to give an observed m/z 415 [M+H] species or two times 113 amu to give an m/z 528 [M+H] species with a daughter ion mass spectrum related to the previous one. Sulfate and mixed methyl-sulfate conjugates were revealed following glucuronidase treatment, suggesting that sulfation occurs in combination with glucuronidation. We noted a paired chromatographic peak phenomenon of apparent ractopamine metabolites appearing as doublets of equivalent intensity with nearly identical mass spectra on GC-MS and concluded that this phenomenon is consistent with Paylean being a mixture of RR, RS, SR, and SS diastereomers of ractopamine. The results suggest that ELISA-based screening followed by glucuronide hydrolysis, parent drug recovery, and TMS derivatization provide an effective pathway for detection and GC-MS confirmation of ractopamine in equine urine.

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Lehner, A. F., Hughes, C. G., Harkins, J. D., Nickerson, C., Mollett, B., Dirikolu, L., Bosken, J., Camargo, F., Boyles, J., Troppmann, A., Karpiesiuk, W., Woods, W. E., & Tobin, T. (2004). Detection and Confirmation of Ractopamine and Its Metabolites in Horse Urine after Paylean® Administration. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 28(4), 226-237. https://doi.org/10.1093/jat/28.4.226

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Supported by a grant from The Kentucky Racing Commission, Lexington, KY.

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Published as Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station Article #03-I 4-04t with the approval of the Dean and Director, College of Agriculture and Kentucky Agricultural Experimental Station.

Publication #324 from the Equine Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Toxicology Program of the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0099.