Analytica chimica acta

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometric imaging for the rapid segmental analysis of methamphetamine in a single hair using umbelliferone as a matrix.

PMID 28552305


Segmental hair analysis offers a longer period for retrospective drug detection than blood or urine. Hair is a keratinous fiber and is strongly hydrophobic. The embedding of drugs in hydrophobic hair at low concentrations makes it difficult for extraction and detection with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) coupled with mass spectrometric imaging (MSI). In this study, a single scalp hair was longitudinally cut with a cryostat section to a length of 4 mm and fixed onto a stainless steel MALDI plate. Umbelliferone was used as a new hydrophobic matrix to enrich and assist the ionization efficiency of methamphetamine in the hair sample. MALDI-Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FTICR)-MS profiling and imaging were performed for direct detection and mapping of methamphetamine on the longitudinal sections of the single hair sample in positive ion mode. Using MALDI-MSI, the distribution of methamphetamine was observed throughout five longitudinally sectioned hair samples from a drug abuser. The changes of methamphetamine were also semi-quantified by comparing the ratios of methamphetamine/internal standard (I.S). This method improves the detection sensitivity of target drugs embedded in a hair matrix for imaging with mass spectrometry. The method could provide a detection level of methamphetamine down to a nanogram per milligram incorporated into hair. The results were also compared with the conventional high performance liquid chromatography -tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) method. Changes in the imaging results over time by the MSI method showed good semi-quantitative correlation to the results from the HPLC-MS/MS method. This study provides a powerful tool for drug abuse control and forensic medicine analysis in a narrow time frame, and a reduction in the sample amount required.

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D.E.R. 332, used as embedding medium