Journal Article

Detection of Exogenous GHB in Blood by Gas Chromatography-Combustion-Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry: Implications in Postmortem Toxicology

Christophe Saudan, Marc Augsburger, Pascal Kintz, Martial Saugy and Patrice Mangin

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 29, issue 8, pages 777-781
Published in print November 2005 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online November 2005 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jat/29.8.777
Detection of Exogenous GHB in Blood by Gas Chromatography-Combustion-Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry: Implications in Postmortem Toxicology

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Because GHB (γ-hydroxybutyrate) is present in both blood and urine of the general population, toxicologists must be able to discriminate between endogenous levels and a concentration resulting from exposure. In this paper, we propose a procedure for the detection of exogenous GHB in blood by gas chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-C-IRMS). Following liquid-liquid and solid-phase extractions, GHB is derivatized to GHB di-TMS before analysis by GC-C-IRMS. Significant differences in the carbon isotopic ratio (Δδ13C-values > 13.5‰) were found between endogenous and synthetic GHB. Indeed, for postmortem blood samples with different GHB concentrations (range: 13.8–86.3 mg/L), we have obtained GHB δ13C-values ranging from −20.6 to −24.7‰, whereas δ13C-values for the GHB from police seizure were in the range −38.2 to −50.2‰. In contrast to the use of cut-off concentrations for positive postmortem blood GHB concentrations, this method should provide an unambiguous indication of the drug origin.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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