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Forensic Sci Int. 2012 Feb 10;215(1-3):81-7. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.02.011. Epub 2011 Mar 5.

Simultaneous analysis of psychotropic phenylalkylamines in oral fluid by GC-MS with automated SPE and its application to legal cases.

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  • 1National Forensic Service, Narcotic Division, 331-1 Sinwol-7-dong, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul 158-707, Republic of Korea.


Phenylalkylamine derivatives, such as methamphetamine (MA), amphetamine (AM), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), phentermine (PT), fenfluramine (FFA) and phenmetrazine (PM), and ketamine (KT) are widely abused recreational or anorectic drugs in Korea and are regulated under the Controlled Substance Act in Korea. Phenylalkylamines and ketamine analysis is normally performed using both urine and hair samples but there is no established method for the simultaneous analysis of all these phenylalkylamines and ketamine in oral fluids. Oral fluid is easy to collect/handle and can provide an indication of recent drug abuse. In this study, to confirm the presence of phenylalkylamine derivatives and ketamine in oral fluid after screening with an immunoassay, an analytical method using automated solid phase extraction (SPE) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was developed and fully validated according to international guidelines. The applicability of the assay was demonstrated by analyzing of authentic oral fluid samples and the results of oral fluid analysis were compared with those in urine and hair to to evaluate the feasibility of oral fluid in forensic cases. The recovery of phenylalkylamines and ketamine from oral fluid collection devices was also assessed. Oral fluid specimens from 23 drug abuse suspects submitted by the police were collected using Salivette (Sarstedt, Nümbrecht, Germany), Quantisal (Immunalysis, Pomona, CA) or direct expectoration. The samples were screened using a biochip array analyzer (Evidence Investigator, Randox, Antrim, UK). For confirmation, the samples were analyzed by GC-MS in selected-ion monitoring (SIM) mode after extraction using automated SPE (RapidTrace, Zymark, MA, USA) with a mixed-mode cation exchange cartridge (CLEAN SCREEN, 130 mg/3 ml, UCT, PA, USA) and derivatization with trifluoroacetic anhydride (TFA). The results from the immunoassay were consistent with those from GC-MS. Twenty oral fluid samples gave positive results for MA, AM, PT and/or PM among the 23 cases, which gave positive results in urine and/or hair. Although large variations in the MA, AM, PT and PM concentrations were observed in three different specimens, the oral fluid specimen was useful for demonstrating phenylalkylamines and ketamine abuse as an alternative specimen for urine.

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