Identification of fentanyl derivatives at trace levels with nonaqueous capillary electrophoresis-electrospray-tandem mass spectrometry (MS(n), n = 2, 3): analytical method and forensic applications.Electrophoresis. 2012 Jun; 33(11):1595-605.E
The identification of fentanyl derivatives at trace levels employing capillary electrophoresis coupled to electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (CE-ESI-MS(n) , n = 2, 3) is presented. The studied synthetic opioid fentanyl and its derivatives have an exceeding analgesic potency which can be up to 8000 times higher that of morphine. Apart from their therapeutical applications, there is an abuse of them in the drug scene as a heroin substitute. The identification of these opioids at trace levels is of further significant forensic interest with respect to recent seizures of clandestine fentanyl laboratories in Germany. In this work, a nonaqueous capillary electrophoresis (NACE)-ESI-MS(n) procedure was developed for the separation and identification of six fentanyl derivatives including fentanyl, cis- and trans-methylfentanyl, sufentanil, alfentanil, and carfentanil. Their fragmentation pattern in MS(n) experiments were investigated as well as the influence of the sheath-liquid mixture and the influence of the inside diameter of the fused silica capillary on the peak shape and the signal to noise ratio. Method validation included determination of the detection limits (about 1-2 nmol/L) and the repeatability of migration time (at most 0.07% relative standard deviation). The NACE-MS procedure was successfully applied for the analysis of real samples from seizures in illegal fentanyl laboratories.