Journal Article

Fatal Strychnine Poisoning: Application of Gas Chromatography and Tandem Mass Spectrometry

Thomas G. Rosano, Jeffrey D. Hubbard, John M. Meola and Thomas A. Swift

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 24, issue 7, pages 642-647
Published in print October 2000 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online October 2000 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jat/24.7.642
Fatal Strychnine Poisoning: Application of Gas Chromatography and Tandem Mass Spectrometry

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The history and toxicological findings in a case of suicidal fatal strychnine poisoning are presented along with a description of the analytical methods. Detection and quantitation of strychnine in body fluids and tissues was performed by gas chromatography (GC) with nitrogen-phosphorus detection, using organic extraction and calibration by a standard addition method. Strychnine concentrations in subclavian blood (1.82 mg/mL), inferior vena cava blood (3.32 mg/mL), urine (3.35 mg/mL), bile (11.4 mg/mL), liver (98.6 mg/kg), lung (12.3 mg/kg), spleen (11.8 mg/kg), brain (2.42 mg/kg), and skeletal muscle (2.32 mg/kg) were determined. Confirmation of strychnine in blood and tissue was performed by GC with detection by tandem ion-trap mass spectrometry (MS). GC-MS-MS analysis, employing electron ionization followed by unit mass resolution and collision-induced dissociation of strychnine, resulted in confirmatory ions with mass-to-charge ratios of 334 (parent ion), 319, 306, 277, 261, 246, 233, and 220. Additional confirmation was provided by GC-MS-MS-MS analysis of each confirmatory ion, revealing an ion fragmentation pathway consistent with the molecular structure of strychnine. The case demonstrates body tissue and fluid distribution of strychnine in a fatal poisoning and the application of tandem MS in medical examiner casework.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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