The areca alkaloids comprise arecoline, arecaidine, guvacoline, and guvacine. Approximately 600 million users of areca nut products, for example, betel quid chewers, are exposed to these alkaloids, principally arecoline and arecaidine. Metabolism of arecoline (20 mg/kg p.o. and i.p.) and arecaidine (20 mg/kg p.o. and i.p.) was investigated in the mouse using a metabolomic approach employing ultra-performance liquid chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometric analysis of urines. Eleven metabolites of arecoline were identified, including arecaidine, arecoline N-oxide, arecaidine N-oxide, N-methylnipecotic acid, N-methylnipecotylglycine, arecaidinylglycine, arecaidinylglycerol, arecaidine mercapturic acid, arecoline mercapturic acid, and arecoline N-oxide mercapturic acid, together with nine unidentified metabolites. Arecaidine shared six of these metabolites with arecoline. Unchanged arecoline comprised 0.3-0.4%, arecaidine 7.1-13.1%, arecoline N-oxide 7.4-19.0%, and N-methylnipecotic acid 13.5-30.3% of the dose excreted in 0-12 h urine after arecoline administration. Unchanged arecaidine comprised 15.1-23.0%, and N-methylnipecotic acid 14.8%-37.7% of the dose excreted in 0-12 h urine after arecaidine administration. The major metabolite of both arecoline and arecaidine, N-methylnipecotic acid, is a novel metabolite arising from carbon-carbon double-bond reduction. Another unusual metabolite found was the monoacylglyceride of arecaidine. What role, if any, that is played by these uncommon metabolites in the toxicology of arecoline and arecaidine is not known. However, the enhanced understanding of the metabolic transformation of arecoline and arecaidine should contribute to further research into the clinical toxicology of the areca alkaloids.
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