Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry Assay to Detect Ethyl Glucuronide in Human Fingernail: Comparison to Hair and Gender Differences


Over the past decade, the use of hair specimens for the long-term detection of the alcohol biomarker ethyl glucuronide has been increasing in popularity and usage. We evaluated the usefulness of fingernail clippings as a suitable alterna-tive to hair for ethyl glucuronide detection. A liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method for the detection of ethyl glucuronide in fingernail clippings was fully validated and used to analyze the hair and/or fingernail specimens of 606 college-aged study participants. The limit of detection was 2 pg/mg, the limit of quantitation was 8 pg/mg and the method was linear from 8 to 2000 pg/mg. Intra- and inter-assay imprecision studies at three different concentrations (20, 40, 200 pg/mg) were all within 7.8% and all intra- and inter-assay bias studies at these levels were within 115.1% of target concentration. Ethyl glucuronide levels in fingernail (mean = 29.1 ± 55.6 pg/mg) were higher than ethyl glucuronide levels in hair (mean = 9.48 ± 22.3 pg/mg) and a correlation of the matched pairs was observed (r = 0.552, P < 0.01, n = 529). Evaluating each gender separately revealed that the correlation of male fingernail to male hair was large and significant (r = 0.782, P < 0.01, n = 195) while female hair to female fingernail was small yet sig-nificant (r = 0.249, P < 0.01, n = 334). The study results demonstrated that fingernail may be a suitable alternative to hair for ethyl glucuronide detection and may be the preferred sample type due to the lack of a gender bias.

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J. Jones, M. Jones, C. Plate, D. Lewis, M. Fendrich, L. Berger and D. Fuhrmann, "Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry Assay to Detect Ethyl Glucuronide in Human Fingernail: Comparison to Hair and Gender Differences," American Journal of Analytical Chemistry, Vol. 3 No. 1, 2012, pp. 83-91. doi: 10.4236/ajac.2012.31012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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