, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 229-234

Identification of the n-heptane metabolites in rat and human urine

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Numerous n-heptane metabolites have been identified and quantified by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry in some tissues and in the urine of Sprague Dawley rats exposed for 6 h to 1800 ppm n-heptane. 2-Heptanol and 3-heptanol were the main biotransformation products of the solvent. 2-Heptanone, 3-heptanone, 4-heptanol, 2,5-heptanedione, γ-valerolactone, 2-ethyl-5-methyl-2, 3-dihydrofuran and 2,6-dimethyl-2,5-dihydropyran were also found as metabolites of n-heptane. In five shoe factory workers and in three rubber factory workers the mean exposure to technical heptane was measured (n-heptane ranged between 5 and 196 mg/m3). In the urine collected at the end of their work shift some n-heptane biotransformation products were found: 2-heptanol, 3-heptanol, 2-heptanone, 4-heptanone and 2,5-heptanedione. 2-Heptanol was the main n-heptane metabolite and its urinary concentrations ranged between 0.1 and 1.9 mg/l. Urinary 2,5-heptanedione was detectable only in some samples and at very low concentration (0.1–0.4 mg/1).

These data suggest that n-heptane can be considered as a neurotoxic product, since it gives rise to 2,5-heptanedione, but the small amount of the urinary metabolite is very unlikely to cause clinical damage to the peripheral nervous system.

Part of this work was presented at the “48 Congr. Naz. Soc. Ital. Med. Lav. Igiene Ind.” Pavia 18–21 September 1985