Send to

Choose Destination
Forensic Sci Int. 2001 Dec 1;123(2-3):159-64.

Delta(9)-THC, 11-OH-Delta(9)-THC and Delta(9)-THCCOOH plasma or serum to whole blood concentrations distribution ratios in blood samples taken from living and dead people.

Author information

Laboratoire de Toxicologie Analytique, Institut de Médecine Légale, Lausanne, Switzerland.


The recreational use and abuse of Cannabis is continuously increasing in Switzerland. Cannabinoids are very often detected alone or in combination with other drugs in biological samples taken from drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs. Moreover, they are also frequently found in blood specimens from people involved in various medico-legal events, e.g. muggings, murders, rapes and working accidents as well. In order to assess the influence of Cannabis exposure on man behavior and performances, it is often needed to estimate the time of Cannabis use. For that purpose two mathematical models have been set up by Huestis and coworkers. These models are based on cannabinoids concentrations in plasma. Because plasma samples are rarely available for forensic determinations in our laboratory, it could be useful to assess the time-laps since Cannabis use through these models from whole blood values. One prerequisite to the use of these models from whole blood values is the knowledge of the plasma to whole blood concentrations distribution ratios of cannabinoids. In this respect, the Delta(9)-THC, 11-OH-Delta(9)-THC and Delta(9)-THCCOOH concentrations were measured in plasma and whole blood taken from eight volunteers who smoke Cannabis on a regular basis. Cannabinoids levels were also determined in "serum" and whole blood samples taken from six corpses. The values of the plasma to whole blood distribution ratios were found to be very similar and their individual coefficient of variation relatively low suggesting that plasma levels could be calculated from whole blood concentrations taken into account a multiplying factor of 1.6. The data obtained postmortem suggest that the distribution of cannabinoids between whole blood and "serum" is scattered over a larger range of values than those determined from living people and that more cannabinoids (mean value of the serum/whole blood concentrations ratios=2.4) can be recovered from the "serum" fraction. The successful use of the mathematical models of Huestis and coworkers may, therefore, rely in part upon the selection of the appropriate blood sample, i.e. plasma. When plasma is not available, whole blood values could be considered with some caution taken into account a multiplying factor of 1.6 to calculate plasma concentrations from blood values. In the case of blood samples taken after death, the use of these models to assess the time of Cannabis use is not recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center