Forensic science international

The effect of sodium fluoride preservative and storage temperature on the stability of 6-acetylmorphine in horse blood, sheep vitreous and deer muscle.

PMID 22185827


This study examined the in vitro stability of 6-acetylmorphine (6AM) in horse blood, sheep vitreous humour (VH) and homogenised deer muscle stored under different storage conditions. The stability of 6AM in horse blood is of interest because many toxicological laboratories utilise this matrix for the preparation of blood calibration and check standards and the latter are typically stored during routine use. Data on the storage stability of 6AM in human VH is extremely limited and no data has been reported in muscle. In the absence of human samples, 6AM stability was demonstrated in sheep vitreous and deer muscle. Blood and VH were stored with and without NaF at room temperature (RT), 4 and -18°C for 84 days. Muscle tissue homogenates were prepared in water with and without NaF and also in phosphate buffer (pH 6.0) containing NaF. Homogenates were stored for 31 days at RT, 4 and -18°C. Morphine and 6AM were extracted using SPE and quantified by GC-ion trap-MS/MS. In the absence of NaF, 6AM could not be detected after 7 and 14 days in blood stored at RT and 4°C, respectively. Although at -18°C 6AM was stable for 7 days (12% loss), only 54% was detected by day 84. The addition of NaF to horse blood increased 6AM stability substantially at every temperature. Further, the rate of degradation was found to be significantly slower in blood preserved with 2% NaF compared with 1% NaF (p=.05). 6AM was stable for the study period in preserved blood (1 and 2% NaF) stored at -18°C. For laboratories utilising horse blood in the preparation of standards, preservation with 1% NaF (minimum) and storage at -18°C is recommended. The addition of NaF to VH was essential for 6AM stability. Irrespective of temperature substantial losses (≥ 42%) were observed in unpreserved sheep VH by day 7. In preserved VH the concentration declined by only 22% on day 7 following storage at RT and no loss observed in VH stored at 4 and -18°C at the same time. In muscle, 6AM was stable for 7 days in preserved samples stored at RT and in all samples stored at 4°C and below. The addition of NaF increased the stability of 6AM substantially in muscle. The increased stability of 6AM in VH and muscle preserved with fluoride was attributed to inhibition of bacterial action and the subsequent reduction in the rate of putrefaction of these tissues.