N-Nitrosodibutylamine and its θ-hydroxylated metabolite N-nitrosobutyl(4-hydroxybutyl)amine (NB4HBA) induce tumors in the urinary bladder of different animal species through their common urinary metabolite N-nitrosobutyl(3-carboxypropyl)amine (NB3CPA), resulting from the oxidation of the alcoholic group of NB4HBA to a carboxylic group.

NB4HBA disappearance from blood, the formation of its main metabolites, NB3CPA and NB4HBA-glucuronide (NB4HBA-G), and their urinary excretion, were investigated in rats after an i.v. dose of 1 mg/kg (5.7 µmol/kg).

NB3CPA and NB4HBA-G formation was readily detectable 2 min after treatment and levels were still measurable at 120 and 30 min, respectively. The parent compound disappeared from blood 90 min after injection. The NB4HBA blood concentration-time profile was adequately described by a one-compartmental linear model. NB4HBA half-life was 8 min, total body clearance and renal clearance were 86.1 and 0.22 ml/min/kg, respectively. The 0-96-h urinary excretion of NB4HBA was 0.3% of the administered dose. NB3CPA half-life was 15 min; NB3CPA and NB4HBA-G urinary excretion were 36 and 11.7%, respectively, urinary excretion of known compounds accounting for less than 50%. After i.v. injection of NB3CPA equimolar to the NB4HBA dose, only 50% of unchanged compound was recovered in the urine and after NB4HBA-G, 41% of the administered dose was excreted unchanged, NB3CPA accounting for 10%. Thus NB3CPA and NB4HBA-G might undergo further biotransformation, suggesting that NB3CPA may not be the ultimate carcinogen responsible for urinary bladder tumor induction.


This work was supported by the Italian National Research Council, Special Project ‘Oncology,’ Contract 86.02607.44.

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