Metabolic study of methylstenbolone in horses using liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry

Timmy L S Choi, Jenny K Y Wong, Wai Him Kwok, Peter Curl, Stewart Mechie, Terence S M Wan
Journal of Chromatography. A 2018 April 20, 1546: 106-118
Methylstenbolone (2,17α-dimethyl-5α-androst-1-en-17β-ol-3-one) is a synthetic anabolic and androgenic steroid (AAS) sold as an oral 'nutritional supplement' under the brand names 'Ultradrol', 'M-Sten' and 'Methyl-Sten'. Like other AASs, methylstenbolone is a prohibited substance in both human and equine sports. This paper describes the studies of the in vitro and in vivo metabolism of methylstenbolone in horses using LC/HRMS, GC/MS and GC/MS/MS. Phase I in vitro metabolic study of methylstenbolone was performed using homogenised horse liver. Hydroxylation was the only biotransformation observed. Six in vitro metabolites were detected including four mono-hydroxylated metabolites, namely 16α/β-hydroxymethylstenbolone (M1a, M1b), 20-hydroxymethylstenbolone (M1c), 6-hydroxymethylstenbolone (M1d), and two dihydroxylated methylstenbolone metabolites (M2c-M2d). An in vivo experiment was carried out using two retired thoroughbred geldings. Each horse was administered with 100 mg methylstenbolone supplement by stomach tubing daily for three consecutive days. Methylstenbolone and 14 metabolites were detected in the post-administration urine samples. The proposed in vivo metabolites included 16α/β-hydroxymethylstenbolone (M1a, M1b), 20-hydroxymethylstenbolone (M1c), two dihydroxylated methylstenbolone (M2a, M2b), 17-epi-methylstenbolone (M3), methasterone (M4), 2,17-dimethylandrostane-16,17-diol-3-one (M5), dihydroxylated and reduced methylstenbolone (M6), 2α,17α-dimethylandrostane-3α,17β-diol (M7), 2,17-dimethylandrostane-3,16,17-triol (M8a-M8c) and 2,17-dimethylandrostane-2,3,16,17-tetraol (M9), formed from hydroxylation, reduction and epimerisation. Methylstenbolone and ten of its metabolites could be detected in post-administration plasma samples. The highest concentration of methylstenbolone detected in urine was about 10-36 ng/mL at 3-4 h after the last administration, while the maximum concentration in plasma was about 0.4-0.7 ng/mL at 1 h after the last administration. For controlling the misuse of methylstenbolone, M8c and M9 gave the longest detection time in urine, while M4, M5 and M6 were the longest detecting analytes in plasma. They could be detected for up to 5 and 4.5 days respectively in urine and plasma. Apart from 16α/β-hydroxymethylstenbolone (M1a, M1b), the methylstenbolone metabolites reported herein have never been reported before.

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