Archives of toxicology

Accumulation of intact sulfur mustard in adipose tissue and toxicokinetics by chemical conversion and isotope-dilution liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

PMID 27351766


Sulfur mustard (SM) is a powerful vesicant and one of the most harmful chemical warfare agents. Although having been studied for a long time, it is still difficult to fully elucidate the mechanisms of SM poisoning, and there is no effective antidote or specific treatment for SM injury. The investigations on toxicokinetics and tissue distribution of SM will help to understand its toxicity and provide a theoretical basis for pretreatment and therapy of SM poisoning. But the metabolic trajectory or fate of intact SM in vivo remains unclear, and there are insufficient experimental data to elucidate, due to its high reactivity and difficulty in biomedical sample analysis. In this paper, a sensitive method for the detection and quantification of intact SM in blood or tissues using isotope-dilution LC-MS/MS coupled with chemical conversion was developed. By transforming highly reactive SM into stable derivative product, the real concentration of intact SM in biological samples was obtained accurately. The toxicokinetics and tissue distribution studies of intact SM in rats were successfully profiled by the novel method after intravenous (10 mg/kg) or cutaneous administration (1, 3 and 10 mg/kg). The SM level in blood with peak time at 30-60 min determined in cutaneous exposure experiment was found much higher than previously reported, and the mean residence time in blood extended to 1-1.5 h. A significant accumulation of intact SM was observed in adipose tissues, including the perirenal fat, epididymal fat, subcutaneous fat and brown fat, in which the concentrations of SM were at least 15 times greater than those in non-adipose tissues in cutaneous exposed rats. The recovery of SM in body fat was calculated as 3.3 % of bioavailable SM (the bioavailability after cutaneous exposure was evaluated as 16 %). Thus, the adipose tissue was important for SM distribution and toxicity, which may pioneer a new model for both the prevention and treatment of SM exposure.

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