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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2011 Apr;400(1):9-16. doi: 10.1007/s00216-011-4708-x. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

On-line SPE LC-MS/MS for the quantification of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its two major metabolites in human peripheral blood by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.

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  • 1Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Bern, Bühlstrasse 20, 3012 Bern, Switzerland.


A universal and robust analytical method for the determination of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and two of its metabolites Δ9-(11-OH)-tetrahydrocannabinol (11-OH-THC) and 11-nor-Δ9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH) in human whole blood was developed and validated for use in forensic toxicology. Protein precipitation, integrated solid phase extraction and on-line enrichment followed by high-performance liquid chromatography separation and detection with a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer were combined. The linear ranges used for the three cannabinoids were from 0.5 to 20 ng/mL for THC and 11-OH-THC and from 2.5 to 100 ng/mL for THC-COOH, therefore covering the requirements for forensic use. Correlation coefficients of 0.9980 or better were achieved for all three analytes. No relevant hydrolysis was observed for THC-COOH glucuronide with this procedure--in contrast to our previous GC-MS procedure, which obviously lead to an artificial increase of the THC-COOH concentration due to the hydrolysis of the glucuronide-conjugate occurring at high pH during the phase-transfer catalyzed methylation step.

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