Direct analysis of δ2H and δ18O in natural and enriched human urine using laser-based, off-axis integrated cavity output spectroscopy

Elena S.F. Berman*, Susan L. Fortson, Steven P. Snaith, Manish Gupta, Douglas S. Baer, Isabelle Chery, Stephane Blanc, Edward L. Melanson, Peter J. Thomson, John R. Speakman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


The stable isotopes of hydrogen (δ2H) and oxygen (δ18O) in human urine are measured during studies of total energy expenditure by the doubly labeled water method, measurement of total body water, and measurement of insulin resistance by glucose disposal among other applications. An ultrasensitive laser absorption spectrometer based on off-axis integrated cavity output spectroscopy was demonstrated for simple and inexpensive measurement of stable isotopes in natural isotopic abundance and isotopically enriched human urine. Preparation of urine for analysis was simple and rapid (approximately 25 samples per hour), requiring no decolorizing or distillation steps. Analysis schemes were demonstrated to address sample-to-sample memory while still allowing analysis of 45 natural or 30 enriched urine samples per day. The instrument was linear over a wide range of water isotopes (δ2H = -454 to +1702 % and δ18O = -58.3 to +265 %). Measurements of human urine were precise to better than 0.65 % σ for δ2H and 0.09 % σ for δ18O for natural urines, 1.1 % σ for δ2H and 0.13 % σ for δ18O for low enriched urines, and 1.0 % σ for δ2H and 0.08 % σ for δ18O for high enriched urines. Furthermore, the accuracy of the isotope measurements of human urines was verified to better than ±0.81 % in δ2H and ±0.13 % in δ18O (average deviation) against three independent isotope-ratio mass spectrometry laboratories. The ability to immediately and inexpensively measure the stable isotopes of water in human urine is expected to increase the number and variety of experiments which can be undertaken.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9768-9773
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2012

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by NIH SBIR Grant no. 2R44RR023231-02A1. The Mass Spec Lab at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is supported by NIH Grant no. P30DK048520.


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