Chewing of areca nut in different forms such as betel quid or commercially produced pan masala and gutkha is common practice in the Indian subcontinent and many parts of Asia and is associated with a variety of negative health outcomes, particularly oral and esophageal cancers. Areca nut-specific alkaloids arecoline, arecaidine, guvacoline, and guvacine have been implicated in both the abuse liability and the carcinogenicity of the areca nut. Therefore, variations in the levels of areca alkaloids could potentially contribute to variations in addictive and carcinogenic potential across areca nut-containing products. Here, we developed an accurate and robust liquid chromatography-tandem mass-spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method for simultaneous quantitation of all four areca alkaloids and applied this method to the analysis of a range of products obtained from India, China, and the United States. The results of the analyses revealed substantial variations in the levels of alkaloids across the tested products, with guvacine being the most abundant (1.39-8.16 mg/g), followed by arecoline (0.64-2.22 mg/g), arecaidine (0.14-1.70 mg/g), and guvacoline (0.17-0.99 mg/g). Substantial differences in the relative contribution of individual alkaloids to the total alkaloid content were also observed among the different products. Our results highlight the need for systematic surveillance of constituent levels in areca nut-containing products and a better understanding of the relationship between the chemical profile and the harmful potential of these products.
- areca nut