Quantitative Analysis of Cannabinoids in Whole Blood Using UPLC/MS/MS for Forensic Laboratories

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Rob Lee, Elodie Saussereau, Christian Lacroix, Michelle Wood
Waters, MS Technologies Centre, J Monod Hospital
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This study reports a quantitative method based on SPE, following protein precipitation and UPLC/MS/MS. The method has been verified and its performance evaluated using authentic samples. Data were compared to results obtained with a GC/MS/MS method.

Cannabinoids should be monitored in both forensic and roadside drug testing laboratories, thus requiring an accurate, reliable, and robust method to quantify these compounds in biological samples. The developed approach meets these requirements, and demonstrates excellent correlation with an alternative GC/MS/MS method for the analysis of cannabinoids in human whole blood samples.

The method offers a number of noteworthy benefits over the GC/MS/MS approach including the following: utilization of UPLC rather than GC separation means that the lengthy post-extraction derivatization, used by the latter technique, can be eliminated with the analytical run time reduced from 20 minutes to 6.5 minutes, a three-fold reduction. The combination of these factors allows for significantly higher sample throughput. Furthermore, the superior sensitivity of the Xevo TQ-S permits detection of the required low levels of cannabinoids even with much smaller blood sample volumes, for example 0.2 mL compared with 1 mL required for other reported methods, even without the need of a post-extraction concentration step. This can be particularly advantageous as the volumes of whole blood available for testing can be small and must be sufficient for testing a number of drug classes.

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