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Forensic Sci Int. 2001 Jun 15;119(2):161-7.

Effect of storage temperature on endogenous GHB levels in urine.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI Laboratory, 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC, USA.


Because gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is an endogenous substance present in the body and is rapidly eliminated after ingestion, toxicologists investigating drug-facilitated sexual assault cases are often asked to differentiate between endogenous and exogenous levels of GHB in urine samples. This study was designed to determine the effects of storage temperature on endogenous GHB levels in urine. Specifically, it was designed to ascertain whether endogenous levels can be elevated to a range considered indicative of GHB ingestion. Urine specimens from two subjects that had not been administered exogenous GHB were collected during a 24h period and individually pooled. The pooled specimens were separated into standard sample cups and divided into three storage groups: room temperature ( approximately 25 degrees C), refrigerated (5 degrees C), and frozen (-10 degrees C). Additionally, some specimens were put through numerous freeze/thaw cycles to mimic situations that may occur if multiple laboratories analyze the same specimen. Periodic analysis of the samples revealed increases in the levels of endogenous GHB over a 6-month period. The greatest increase (up to 404%) was observed in the samples maintained at room temperature. The refrigerated specimens showed increases of 140-208%, while the frozen specimens showed smaller changes (88-116%). The specimens subjected to multiple freeze/thaw cycles mirrored specimens that had been thawed only once. None of the stored urine specimens demonstrated increases in GHB concentrations that would be consistent with exogenous GHB ingestion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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