ATCA (2-amino-2-thiazoline-4-carboxylic acid) is a promising marker to assess cyanide exposure because of several advantages of ATCA analysis over direct determination of cyanide and alternative cyanide biomarkers (i.e. stability in biological matrices, consistent recovery, and relatively small endogenous concentrations). Concentrations of ATCA in the plasma of smoking and non-smoking human volunteers were analyzed using gaschromatography mass-spectrometry to establish the feasibility of using ATCA as a marker for cyanide exposure. The levels of ATCA in plasma of smoking volunteers, 17.2 ng/ml, were found to be significantly (p < 0.001) higher than that of non-smoking volunteers, 11.8 ng/ml. Comparison of ATCA concentrations of smokers relative to nonsmokers in both urine and plasma yielded relatively similar results. The concentration ratio of ATCA for smokers versus non-smokers in plasma and urine was compared to similar literature studies of cyanide and thiocyanate, and correlations are discussed. This study supports previous evidence that ATCA can be used to determine past cyanide exposure and indicates that further studies should be pursued to validate the use of ATCA as a marker of cyanide exposure.
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