The present work describes a highly precise and sensitive method developed to detect cocaine (COC), benzoylecgonine (BE, its main metabolite) and cocaethylene (CE, transesterification product of the coingestion of COC with ethanol) in human head hair samples. The method was based on an alkylchloroformate derivatization of benzoylecgonine and the extraction of the analytes by solid-phase microextraction (SPME). Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was used to identify and quantify the analytes in selected ion monitoring mode (SIM). The limits of quantification and detection (LOQ and LOD) were: 0.1 ng/mg for COC and CE, and 0.5 ng/mg for BE. Good inter- and intra-assay precision was observed. The dynamic range of the assay was 0.1-50 ng/mg. The method is not time consuming and was shown to be easy to perform.
Six healthy male volunteers were exposed to the vapor of 100 and 200 mg freebase cocaine heated to a temperature of 200 degrees C in an unventilated room (12,600-L volume) for a period of 1 h. No pharmacological effects were detected as a result of the exposure. Blood specimens collected immediately following exposure were negative for cocaine and metabolites. Urine specimens analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry contained peak concentrations of benzoylecgonine that ranged from 22 to 123 ng/mL. The peak excretion time for benzoylecgonine following passive exposure was approximately 5 h. The amount of cocaine inhaled by the subjects during passive exposure was estimated from room air measurements of cocaine to be approximately 0.25 mg. The total amount of cocaine (cocaine plus metabolites) excreted in urine by the six subjects ranged from 0.04 to 0.21 mg. For comparison, the six subjects also received an intravenous injection of 1 mg cocaine hydrochloride. Four of six subjects screened positive (300-ng/mL cutoff concentration) following the injection, indicating that the minimum amount of cocaine in these subjects necessary to produce positive results was approximately 1 mg. A second passive inhalation study was undertaken in which specimens were collected from research staff who assisted in a series of experimental studies with "crack" (freebase cocaine) smokers. The research staff remained in close vicinity while the crack smokers smoked three doses of freebase cocaine (12.5, 25, and 50 mg) over a period of 4 h. As a result, staff members were passively exposed to sidestream smoke from crack pipes and to breath exhalation from the crack smokers. Urine specimens from the staff members contained a maximum of 6 ng/mL benzoylecgonine. Only traces (less than 1 ng/mL) of cocaine were detected in any specimen. Overall, these studies demonstrated that individuals exposed to cocaine smoke under naturalistic or artificial conditions absorbed small amounts of
Chromatographic separation of highly polar basic drugs with ideal ionspray mass spectrometry volatile mobile phases is a difficult challenge. A new quantification procedure was developed using hydrophilic interaction chromatography-mass spectrometry with turbo-ionspray ionization in the positive mode. After addition of deuterated internal standards and simple clean-up liquid extraction, the dried extracts were reconstituted in 500 microL pure acetonitrile and 5 microL was directly injected onto a Waters Atlantis HILIC 150- x 2.1-mm, 3-microm column. Chromatographic separations of cocaine, seven metabolites, and anhydroecgonine were obtained by linear gradient-elution with decreasing high concentrations of acetonitrile (80-56% in 18 min). This high proportion of organic solvent makes it easier to be coupled with MS. The eluent was buffered with 2 mM ammonium acetate at pH 4.5. Except for m-hydroxy-benzoylecgonine, the within-day and between-day precisions at 20, 100, and 500 ng/mL were below 7 and 19.1%, respectively. Accuracy was also below +/- 13.5% at all tested concentrations. The limit of quantification was 5 ng/mL (%Diff < 16.1, %RSD < 4.3) and the limit of detection below 0.5 ng/mL. This method was successfully applied to a fatal overdose. In Switzerland, cocaine abuse has dramatically increased in the last few years. A 45-year-old man, a known HIV-positive drug user, was found dead at home. According to relatives, cocaine was self-injected about 10 times during the evening before death. A low amount of cocaine (0.45 mg) was detected in the bloody fluid taken from a syringe discovered near the corpse. Besides injection marks, no significant lesions were detected during the forensic autopsy. Toxicological investigations showed high cocaine concentrations in all body fluids and tissues. The peripheral blood concentrations of cocaine, benzoylecgonine, and methylecgonine were 5.0, 10.4, and 4.1 mg/L, respectively. The brain concentrations of cocaine
Active cocaine use results in sequestration of parent drug in hair. In addition, hair has unique physicochemical properties that permit absorption of cocaine from the environment. When hair is tested for evidence of cocaine, it is important to consider whether the positive test resulted from active drug use or environmental contamination. In a series of laboratory experiments, it was found that exposure of 'cut' hair to cocaine vapor ('crack' smoke) and to aqueous solutions of cocaine hydrochloride resulted in significant contamination of hair samples. Similar results were obtained with two subjects who were exposed to cocaine vapor in an unventilated room. The amount of contamination adsorbed by hair depended upon both time and extent of exposure. Washing the hair samples with methanol removed > 70% of the cocaine contaminant after cocaine vapor exposure, but was less effective (< 50%) following contamination with aqueous cocaine. Shampoo treatment cycles (overnight soaking) progressively removed increasing amounts of cocaine from the contaminated hair, but residual cocaine remained after 10 cycles. Studies were also performed to determine the usefulness of benzoylecgonine as a marker of active cocaine administration. Small amounts of benzoylecgonine (ca. 1 ng/mg) were formed in hair as a result of environmental contamination with cocaine. Also, it was found that benzoylecgonine could be adsorbed from illicit cocaine contaminated with benzoylecgonine. It was concluded that positive hair test results should be interpreted cautiously due to the possibility of environmental contamination from cocaine and related constituents.
Electroanalytical technologies as a beneficial subject of modern analytical chemistry can play an important role for abused drug analysis which is crucial for both legal and social respects. This article reports a novel aptamer-based biosensing procedure for cocaine analysis by combining the advantages of aptamers as selective recognition elements with the well-known advantages of biosensor systems such as the possibility of miniaturization and automation, easy fabrication and modification, low cost, and sensitivity. In order to construct the aptasensor platform, first, polythiophene bearing polyalanine homopeptide side chains (PT-Pala) was electrochemically coated onto the surface of an electrode and then cocaine aptamer was attached to the polymer via covalent conjugation chemistry. The stepwise modification of the surface was confirmed by electrochemical characterization. The designed biosensing system was applied for the detection of cocaine and its metabolite, benzoylecgonine (BE), which exhibited a linear correlation in the range from 2.5 up to 10 nM and 0.5 up to 50 μM for cocaine and BE, respectively. In order to expand its practical application, the proposed method was successfully tested for the analysis of synthetic biological fluids.