Development and Evaluation of an Immunoassay for Biological Monitoring Chlorophenols in Urine as Potential Indicators of Occupational Exposure

Trichlorophenols (TCP) eliminated by the urine can be considered as potential biomarkers of exposure of many chemicals (chlorophenols, chlorophenoxy acid herbicides, prochloraz, lindane, hexachlorobenzene, etc). High-throughput screening methods are necessary to carry out efficient monitoring programs that may help to prevent certain occupational health diseases. For this purpose, an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for 2,4,6-trichlorophenol detection has been developed using polyclonal antisera raised against 3-(3-hydroxy-2,4,6-trichlorophenyl)propanoic acid (hapten <b>5</b>) covalently coupled by the mixed anhydride (MA) method to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH). The indirect ELISA uses a heterologous coating antigen prepared by conjugation of 3-(2-hydroxy-3,6-dichlorophenyl)propanoic acid (hapten <b>4</b>) to bovine serum albumin (BSA) using the active ester (AE) method. The optimum hapten density for the coating antigen was found to be 3 mol of hapten/mol of protein. The assay shows a limit of detection of 0.245 ± 0.116 μg L<sup>-1</sup>, and it is performed on 96-well microtiter plates in about 1.5 h. The ELISA reported recognizes on a much less extent other chlorinated phenols, such as 2,3,4,6-tetrachlorophenol (2,3,4,6-TtCP, 21%), 2,4,5-TCP (12%) and 2,3,5-TCP (15%); however, brominated phenols (BP) are even more recognized than the corresponding chlorinated analogues (ex. 2,4,6-TBP, 710%; 2,4-DBP, 119%). With the aim of finding an explanation for this behavior, theoretical calculations have been performed for those and other halogenated phenols (2,4,6-triiodophenol and 2,4,6-trifluorophenol) to clarify which physicochemical parameter can explain better the recognition pattern observed. Finally, the assay has been adapted to the analysis of urine samples. The studies have shown that a limit of detection of 1 μg L<sup>-1</sup> can be accomplished on this biological matrix by combining the ELISA procedure with a C18 solid-phase extraction method.