Screening analysis for medicinal drugs and drugs of abuse in whole blood using ultra-performance liquid chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-TOF-MS)--toxicological findings in cases of alleged sexual assault.Forensic Sci Int 2012; 222(1-3):154-61FS
An ultra-performance liquid chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-TOF-MS) method for simultaneous screening of 46 medicinal drugs and drugs of abuse in whole blood was developed and validated. The method includes most of the commonly used and abused drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine, benzodiazepines, and opioids. Chromatographic separation of the targeted drugs was achieved using a Waters ACQUITY UPLC coupled to a Waters Micromass LCT Premier XE time-of-flight mass spectrometer. The total chromatographic run time was 13.5 min injection to injection. The estimated method LOQ is in the range of 0.06-27 ng/g, which is below the therapeutic levels for each of the drugs analyzed but LSD. The extraction recovery ranged from 6% to 197% with median value 95% and mean value 82%. Matrix effect ranged from 81% suppression to 29% enhancement of the signals compared to signals obtained in the absence of biological matrix. The method was tested on 55 authentic forensic toxicology samples confirming the same positive results as found using the routine analytical procedures as well as some additional compounds. Recently there has been considerable attention paid to drug-facilitated sexual assault and the toxicological findings in these cases. As part of a pilot study to investigate the prevalence of medicinal drugs, drugs of abuse, and alcohol in victims of alleged sexual assault, biological specimens were obtained from 167 victims being examined at the Sexual Assault Center in Aarhus, Denmark. The obtained blood samples were analyzed using the novel screening method supported by additional analyses for e.g. THC and alcohol. 124 victims reported they have been drinking alcohol prior to the assault (74%). Alcohol analyses revealed 59 positive findings (48%). 35 of the cases were found positive for one or more drugs excluding alcohol (21%). 20 of the victims reported they have been subject to a drug-facilitated sexual assault (12%). For the victims suspecting drug-facilitated sexual assault, the toxicological analyses revealed four positive for alcohol and nine victims were positive for one or more drugs, with six of the victims found positive for benzodiazepines or other drugs with sedative effects. It was notable that victims tested positive for medicinal drugs and drugs of abuse as well as victims of alleged drug-facilitated sexual assault in average underwent medical examination later than the whole study population.