The routinely used analytical method for detecting the abuse of anabolic steroids only allows the detection of molecules with known analytical properties. In our supplementary approach to structure-independent detection, substances are identified by their biological activity. In the present study, urines excreted after oral methyltestosterone (MT) administration were analyzed by a yeast androgen screen (YAS). The aim was to trace the excretion of MT or its metabolites in human urine samples and to compare the results with those from the established analytical method. MT and its two major metabolites were tested as pure compounds in the YAS. In a second step, the ability of the YAS to detect MT and its metabolites in urine samples was analyzed. For this purpose, a human volunteer ingested of a single dose of 5 mg methyltestosterone. Urine samples were collected after different time intervals (0-307 h) and were analyzed in the YAS and in parallel by GC/MS. Whereas the YAS was able to trace MT in urine samples at least for 14 days, the detection limits of the GC/MS method allowed follow-up until day six. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that the yeast reporter gene system could detect the activity of anabolic steroids like methyltestosterone with high sensitivity even in urine. Furthermore, the YAS was able to detect MT abuse for a longer period of time than classical GC/MS. Obviously, the system responds to long-lasting metabolites yet unidentified. Therefore, the YAS can be a powerful (pre-) screening tool with the potential that to be used to identify persistent or late screening metabolites of anabolic steroids, which could be used for an enhancement of the sensitivity of GC/MS detection techniques.

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