Principal opium alkaloids as possible biochemical markers for the source identification of Indian opium



A total of 124 opium samples originating from different licit opium growing divisions of India were analyzed for their principal alkaloid (thebaine, codeine, morphine, papaverine, and narcotine) content by capillary zone electrophoresis (CZE) without derivatization or purification. Absence of papaverine in Bareilly, Tilhar, and most of the samples originating from Kota is a significant observation in relation to the source of Indian opium. Multiple discriminant analysis was applied to the quantitative principal alkaloid data to determine an optimal classifier in order to evaluate the source of Indian opium. The predictive value based on the discriminant analysis was found to be 85% in relation to the source of opium and the study also revealed that all the principal alkaloids have to be analyzed for source identification of Indian opium. Chemometrics performed with principal alkaloids analytical data was used successfully in discriminating the licit opium growing divisions of India into three major groups, viz., group I, II, and III. The methodology developed may find wide forensic application in identifying the source of licit or illicit opium originating from India, and to differentiate it from opium originating from other opium producing countries.