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J Anal Toxicol. 2001 Nov-Dec;25(8):705-10.

Fatal 4-MTA intoxication: development of a liquid chromatographic-tandem mass spectrometric assay for multiple matrices.

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  • 1Laboratoria voor Medische Biochemie en voor Klinische Analyse, Universiteit Gent, Belgium.


The case history and toxicological findings of an overdose fatality involving 4-methylthioamphetamine (4-MTA) and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) are reported along with a description of the analytical method. Detection and quantitation of 4-MTA and MDMA were performed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry using phentermine as internal standard. Application of this technique to a variety of matrices allowed an insight in the distribution of 4-MTA. Several blood samples including femoral vein blood (5.23 mg/L), urine (95.5 mg/L), vitreous humor (1.31 mg/L), bile (36.4 mg/L), and numerous tissue samples such as liver (30.8 mg/kg), spleen (4.10 mg/kg), and frontal lobe (31.7 mg/kg) were assayed. These values indicated that 4-MTA could be identified as the cause of this fatality, whereas the concentrations of MDMA, also described, are less important because the concentrations found are lower. This case reports, for the first time, an extensive toxicological analysis of 4-MTA, by which the data presented may shed some light on the distribution of 4-MTA.

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