Drug testing and analysis

Determination of a selection of anti-epileptic drugs and two active metabolites in whole blood by reversed phase UPLC-MS/MS and some examples of application of the method in forensic toxicology cases.

PMID 25331692


Quantitative determination of anti-epileptic drug concentrations is of great importance in forensic toxicology cases. Although the drugs are not usually abused, they are important post-mortem cases where the question of both lack of compliance and accidental or deliberate poisoning might be raised. In addition these drugs can be relevant for driving under the influence cases. A reversed phase ultra-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method has been developed for the quantitative analysis of the anti-epileptic compounds carbamazepine, carbamazepine-10,11-epoxide, gabapentin, lamotrigine, levetiracetam, oxcarbazepine, 10-OH-carbazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, pregabalin, and topiramate in whole blood, using 0.1 mL sample volume with methaqualone as internal standard. Sample preparation was a simple protein precipitation with acetonitrile and methanol. The diluted supernatant was directly injected into the chromatographic system. Separation was performed on an Acquity UPLC® BEH Phenyl column with gradient elution and a mildly alkaline mobile phase. The mass spectrometric detection was performed in positive ion mode, except for phenobarbital, and multiple reaction monitoring was used for drug quantification. The limits of quantification for the different anti-epileptic drugs varied from 0.064 to 1.26 mg/L in blood, within-day and day-to-day relative standard deviations from 2.2 to 14.7% except for phenobarbital. Between-day variation for phenobarbital was 20.4% at the concentration level of 3.5 mg/L. The biases for all compounds were within ±17.5%. The recoveries ranged between 85 and 120%. The corrected matrix effects were 88-106% and 84-110% in ante-mortem and post-mortem whole blood samples, respectively.

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