Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 79, Issue 7, pp 367–376 | Cite as

New metabolites of di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) in human urine and serum after single oral doses of deuterium-labelled DEHP

  • Holger M. Koch
  • Hermann M. Bolt
  • Ralf Preuss
  • Jürgen Angerer
Toxicokinetics and Metabolism


The metabolism of di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) in humans was studied after three doses of 0.35 mg (4.7 μg/kg), 2.15 mg (28.7 μg/kg) and 48.5 mg (650 μg/kg) of D4-ring-labelled DEHP were administered orally to a male volunteer. Two new metabolites, mono(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl)phthalate (5cx-MEPP) and mono[2-(carboxymethyl)hexyl]phthalate (2cx-MMHP) were monitored for 44 h in urine and for 8 h in serum for the high-dose case, in addition to the three metabolites previously analysed: mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl)phthalate (5OH-MEHP), mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl)phthalate (5oxo-MEHP) and mono(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (MEHP). For the medium- and low-dose cases, 24 h urine samples were analysed. Up to 12 h after the dose, 5OH-MEHP was the major urinary metabolite, after 12 h it was 5cx-MEPP, and after 24 h it was 2cx-MMHP. The elimination half-lives of 5cx-MEHP and 2cx-MMHP were between 15 and 24 h. After 24 h 67.0% (range: 65.8–70.5%) of the DEHP dose was excreted in urine, comprising 5OH-MEHP (23.3%), 5cx-MEPP (18.5%), 5oxo-MEHP (15.0%), MEHP (5.9%) and 2cx-MMHP (4.2%). An additional 3.8% of the DEHP dose was excreted on the second day, comprising 2cx-MMHP (1.6%), 5cx-MEPP (1.2%), 5OH-MEHP (0.6%) and 5oxo-MEHP (0.4%). In total about 75% of the administered DEHP dose was excreted in urine after two days. Therefore, in contrast to previous studies, most of the orally administered DEHP is systemically absorbed and excreted in urine. No dose dependency in metabolism and excretion was observed. The secondary metabolites of DEHP are superior biomonitoring markers compared to any other parameters, such as MEHP in urine or blood. 5OH-MEHP and 5oxo-MEHP in urine reflect short-term and 5cx-MEHP and 2cx-MMHP long-term exposure. All secondary metabolites are unsusceptible to contamination. Furthermore, there are strong hints that the secondary oxidised DEHP metabolites—not DEHP or MEHP—are the ultimate developmental toxicants.


Metabolism Human Urine Serum Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) Mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl)phthalate (5OH-MEHP) Mono(2-ethyl-5-oxo-hexyl)phthalate (5oxo-MEHP) Mono(2-ethyl-5-carboxypropyl)phthalate (5cx-MEPP) Mono[2-(carboxymethyl)hexyl]phthalate (2cx-MMHP) Mono(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (MEHP) 



We especially thank the DFG (German Research Foundation) for their financial support of the project (No.: AN 107/16-1-3).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holger M. Koch
    • 1
  • Hermann M. Bolt
    • 2
  • Ralf Preuss
    • 1
  • Jürgen Angerer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute and Outpatient Clinic of Occupational, Social and Environmental MedicineUniversity of Erlangen-NurembergErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Occupational PhysiologyUniversity of Dortmund, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human FactorsDortmundGermany

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