Journal Article

Postmortem Drug Screening by Non-Targeted and Targeted Ultra-Performance Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Technology

Thomas G. Rosano, Michelle Wood and Thomas A. Swift

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 35, issue 7, pages 411-423
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online September 2011 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/anatox/35.7.411
Postmortem Drug Screening by Non-Targeted and Targeted Ultra-Performance Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Technology

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In the medical examiner setting, comprehensive drug screening is an essential analytical tool in the investigation of cause and manner of death. We have validated non-targeted and targeted screening assays for drugs and metabolites using ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) interfaced with mass spectrometry (MS) in single and tandem stages. For non-targeted screening by UPLC-MS electrospray interface, in-source fragmentation was used along with MS scanning (m/z 80–650) and library search for over 700 drug and metabolite analytes. Targeted detection of over 200 analytes by UPLC-MS-MS was performed with dual transition ion monitoring. Validation studies confirmed reproducibility of both mass spectra produced by in-source fragmentation and transition ion ratios by collision-cell dissociation. Lower limit of detection by UPLC-MS (10–150 ng/mL) and UPLC-MS-MS (1–50 ng/mL) was determined for a subset of drugs and correlated with extraction recovery and matrix effect. Drug findings by UPLC-MS and UPLC-MS-MS were compared with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) screening in postmortem blood from 410 medical examiner cases with 1121 positive drug findings by all methods. Accuracy, based on results of confirmation testing, was high (98–99%) across all screening assays and detection sensitivity by GC-MS (71%), UPLC-MS (73%), and UPLC-MS-MS (76%) was determined. UPLC-MS plus UPLC-MS-MS screening resulted in the highest drug detection rate (95%) and provided optimal dual-screening for the postmortem casework.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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