Journal Article

Fatality Due to Acute α-Methyltryptamine Intoxication

Diane M. Boland, Wilmo Andollo, George W. Hime and W. Lee Hearn

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 29, issue 5, pages 394-397
Published in print July 2005 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online July 2005 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI:
Fatality Due to Acute α-Methyltryptamine Intoxication

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In February 2003, the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department reported the first known death in the country related to a-methyltryptamine (AMT). AMT is an indole analogue of amphetamine investigated in the 1960s as an antidepressant, stimulant, and monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Today, AMT is recognized as a powerful psychedelic drug among high school and college-aged men and women. Its popularity is partly due to the multitude of anecdotal websites discussing AMT as well as its legality and availability for purchase via the Internet prior to April 2003. Emergency designation of AMT as a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration occurred shortly after the death in Miami-Dade County. The case in Miami involved a young college student who, prior to death, advised his roommate that he was “taking hallucinating drugs” and as a result had “discovered the secret of the universe” Approximately 12 h later, the roommate discovered the deceased lying in bed unresponsive. An empty 1 -g vial of AMT was recovered from the scene and sent to the toxicology laboratory. Initial screening of urine by enzyme-multiplied immunoassay technique was positive for amphetamines, and the basic drug blood screen detected a small peak later identified by mass spectrometry as AMT. For quantitation, AMT was isolated using solid-phase extraction, derivatized with pentafluoropropionic anhydride, and analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Quantitative analysis was based upon m/z 276, 303, and 466 for AMT and m/z 306, 333, and 496 for the internal standard, 5-methoxy-alpha-methyltryptamine. A linear calibration curve from 50 to 500 ng/mL was used to calculate the concentration of AMT in the samples and controls. Blood, tissue, and gastric specimens were diluted to bring the observed concentration within the limits of the standard curve. Matrix matched controls were extracted and analyzed with each run. Postmortem iliac vein blood revealed 2.0 rag/L, gastric contents (48 g collected at autopsy) contained 9.6 mg total of AMT, liver contained 24.7 mg/kg, and the brain contained 7.8 mg/kg. An additional Medical Examiner case from another jurisdiction revealed 1.5 mg/L in antemortem serum.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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