Development and validation of a liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry method for the quantitation of synthetic cannabinoids of the aminoalkylindole type and methanandamide in serum and its application to forensic samples

Authors

  • Sebastian Dresen,

    1. Institute of Forensic Medicine, Forensic Toxicology, University Medical Center Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
    2. Chair of Analytical Chemistry—Joint Mass Spectrometric Centre, Institute of Chemistry, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Stefan Kneisel,

    1. Institute of Forensic Medicine, Forensic Toxicology, University Medical Center Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Wolfgang Weinmann,

    1. Department of Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology, Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ralf Zimmermann,

    1. Chair of Analytical Chemistry—Joint Mass Spectrometric Centre, Institute of Chemistry, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany
    2. Cooperation Group Analysis of Complex Molecular Systems—Joint Mass Spectrometric Centre, Institute for Ecological Chemistry, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Volker Auwärter

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Forensic Medicine, Forensic Toxicology, University Medical Center Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
    • Institute of Forensic Medicine, Forensic Toxicology, University Medical Center Freiburg, Albertstr. 9, 79104 Freiburg, Germany.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • This article was published online on 24 January 2011. Errors were subsequently identified. This notice is included in the online and print versions to indicate that both have been corrected 1 February 2011.

Abstract

After the discovery of synthetic cannabimimetic substances in ‘Spice’-like herbal mixtures marketed as ‘incense’ or ‘plant fertilizer’ the active compounds have been declared as controlled substances in several European countries. As expected, a monitoring of new herbal mixtures which continue to appear on the market revealed that shortly after control measures have been taken by legal authorities, other compounds were added to existing mixtures and to new products. Several compounds of the aminoalkylindole type have been detected so far in herbal mixtures but still their consumption cannot be detected by commonly used drug-screening procedures, encouraging drug users to substitute cannabis with those products. There is a increasing demand on the part of police authorities, hospitals and psychiatrists for detection and quantification of synthetic cannabinoids in biological samples originating from psychiatric inpatients, emergency units or assessment of fitness to drive. Therefore, a liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry method after liquid–liquid extraction for the quantitation of JWH-015, JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-081, JWH 200, JWH-250, WIN 55,212-2 and methanandamide and the detection of JWH-019 and JWH-020 in human serum has been developed and fully validated according to guidelines for forensic toxicological analyses. The method was successfully applied to 101 serum samples from 80 subjects provided by hospitals, detoxification and therapy centers, forensic psychiatric centers and police authorities. Fifty-seven samples or 56.4% were found positive for at least one aminoalkylindole. JWH-019, JWH-020, JWH-200, WIN 55,212-2 and methanandamide were not detected in any of the analyzed samples. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Ancillary