Journal Article

Quantitation of Cocaine in Human Hair: The Effect of Centrifugation of Hair Digests*

Karin M. Höld, Deanna L. Hubbard, Diana G. Wilkins and Douglas E. Rollins

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 22, issue 6, pages 414-417
Published in print October 1998 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online October 1998 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI:
Quantitation of Cocaine in Human Hair: The Effect of Centrifugation of Hair Digests*

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Hair pigmentation is a critical factor in the interpretation of the concentration of certain compounds and their metabolites incorporated into hair. Melanin is responsible for the pigmentation. The color and the melanin content of human hair samples differs over a wide range. Once deposited into hair, drug may remain detectable for a period of months to years. However, if drug disposition into hair is influenced by those properties attributed to hair color, then certain persons may test positive more frequently than other persons. Removal of the melanin from hair digests prior to drug analysis may reduce the effect of melanin on the total drug concentration by excluding the drug bound to the pigment. In this study, the effect of melanin removal by centrifugation of hair digests on cocaine concentrations was investigated. Two sets of hair samples from five cocaine users were analyzed for cocaine and metabolites. A solution consisting of 10 mL of 0.5M Tris buffer (pH 6.4) to which is added 60 mg D,L-dithiothreitol, 200 mg SDS, and 200 U Proteinase K, was used to digest the hair. Two milliliters of this solution was added to 20 mg of hair and incubated at 37°C in a shaking water bath (90 oscillations/rain) overnight. The samples were removed from the water bath and mixed. One set was centrifuged at 2000 rpm and divided into supernatant and melanin pellet. The other set was not centrifuged. Internal standards were added to all tubes. The samples were further extracted, derivatized, and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. A mean of 8.8% (standard deviation [SD] 7.0%) of the total cocaine concentration (supernatant and pellet) was left behind in the pellet. The same experiment was repeated except that the melanin pellet was redigested with 0.1N HCl. After redigestion of the melanin pellet, the mean cocaine concentration in the pellet was 3.8% ± 4.0% (mean ± SD) of the total cocaine concentration in hair. These data demonstrate that removal of melanin from hair digests by centrifugation does not eliminate hair color bias when interpreting cocaine concentrations.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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