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Int J Legal Med. 2008 Sep;122(5):389-93. doi: 10.1007/s00414-008-0229-3. Epub 2008 Jun 24.

In vitro study of bacterial degradation of ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulphate.

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  • 1Institute of Forensic Medicine, Freiburg University Medical Center, Albertstr. 9, 79104, Freiburg, Germany.


Recent studies show that ethyl glucuronide (EtG) can be decomposed by bacteria; whilst so far no degradation of ethyl sulphate (EtS) has been observed. In the present study, in vitro experiments with bacterial colonies were performed. Bacteria (Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Clostridium sordellii) were isolated from autopsy material (liver, heart blood, urine, ascites, pericardial fluid, pleural fluid) tested for beta-glucuronidase activity, and three bacterial strains were added to nutrient-deficient medium containing EtG and/or EtS and incubated at 36 +/- 1 degrees C. Samples were taken after various intervals up to 11 days, and EtG and EtS were determined by electrospray ionisation tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS). EtG was degraded by E. coli and C. sordellii--complete degradation occurred in the range of 3-4 days--and these bacteria exhibited beta-glucuronidase activity. EtS was not affected within 11 days of incubation.

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