Drug testing and analysis

Do capillary dried blood spot concentrations of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid mirror those in venous blood? A comparative study.

PMID 25565078


Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is a well-known illicit club and date-rape drug. Dried blood spot (DBS) sampling is a promising alternative for classical venous sampling in cases of (suspected) GHB intoxication since it allows rapid sampling, which is of interest for the extensively metabolized GHB. However, there is limited data if -and how- capillary DBS concentrations correlate with venous concentrations. We conducted a comparative study in 50 patients with suspected GHB intoxication, to determine and to correlate GHB concentrations in venous DBS (vDBS) and capillary DBS (cDBS). This is the first study that evaluates in a large cohort the correlation between capillary and venous concentrations of an illicit drug in real-life samples. Of the 50 paired samples, 7 were excluded: the vDBS concentration was below the LLOQ of 2 µg/mL in 3 cases and 4 samples were excluded after visual inspection of the DBS. Bland-Altman analysis revealed a mean % difference of -2.8% between cDBS and vDBS concentrations, with the zero value included in the 95% confidence interval of the mean difference in GHB concentration. A paired sample t-test confirmed this observation (p = 0.17). Also the requirement for incurred sample reproducibility was fulfilled: for more than two-thirds of the samples the concentrations obtained in cDBS and those in vDBS were within 20% of their mean. Since equivalent concentrations were observed in cDBS and vDBS, blood obtained by fingerprick can be considered a valid alternative for venous blood for GHB determination.