Toxicokinetics of N-ethyl-2-pyrrolidone and its metabolites in blood, urine and amniotic fluid of rats after oral administration

  • Daniel Bury
  • Anne Marie Saillenfait
  • Fabrice Marquet
  • Heiko U. KäfferleinEmail author
  • Thomas Brüning
  • Holger M. Koch
Toxicokinetics and Metabolism


The toxicokinetics of N-ethyl-2-pyrrolidone (NEP), an embryotoxic organic solvent, has been studied in Sprague–Dawley rats after oral exposure. NEP and its metabolites 5-hydroxy-N-ethyl-2-pyrrolidone (5-HNEP) and 2-hydroxy-N-ethylsuccinimide (2-HESI) were measured in plasma of pregnant and non-pregnant rats, and fetuses after NEP administration by gavage for 14 consecutive days at 50 mg/kg/day, and in plasma of non-pregnant rats after a single NEP administration. Additionally, amniotic fluid and 24-h urine samples of the pregnant rats were analyzed for NEP metabolites. Furthermore, 24-h urine samples from a repeated dose 28-day oral toxicity study in female (non-pregnant) and male rats administered developmentally non-toxic (0, 5, and 50 mg/kg/day) or toxic (250 mg/kg/day) doses of NEP were analyzed. Median peak plasma concentrations in non-pregnant rats after a single dose and repeated doses were 551 and 611 (NEP), 182 and 158 (5-HNEP), and 63.8 and 108 µmol/L (2-HESI), respectively; whereas in pregnant rats and fetuses 653 and 619 (NEP), 80.5 and 91.7 (5-HNEP) and 77.3 and 45.7 µmol/L (2-HESI) were detected. Times to reach maximum plasma concentrations for NEP, 5-HNEP, and 2-HESI were 1, 4, and 8 h, respectively, and were comparable to N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) and its corresponding metabolites. In pregnant rats, plasma elimination of NEP and metabolite formation/elimination was much slower compared to non-pregnant rats and efficient placental transfer of NEP was observed. Our data, overall, suggest differences in the toxicokinetics of chemicals between pregnant and non-pregnant rats which need to be addressed in risk assessment, specifically when assessing developmental toxicants such as NEP.


N-Ethyl-2-pyrrolidone (NEP) Toxicokinetics Rats Plasma Urine Amniotic fluid 



This study was core-funded by the German Social Accident Insurances (DGUV) and the French National Research and Safety Institute (INRS). We would like to thank Stephanie Zülz and Eleonore Menne for excellent technical assistance.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. The animal facilities used in the study have been accredited by the French Ministry of Agriculture. All animal experiments complied with European Union Directive 2010/63/EU and French legislation for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes and were approved by the local ethical committee and the French Ministry of Superior Education and Research.

Supplementary material

204_2019_2404_MOESM1_ESM.docx (140 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 139 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident InsuranceInstitute of the Ruhr-University Bochum (IPA)BochumGermany
  2. 2.National Research and Safety InstituteVandoeuvre CedexFrance

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