International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 127, Issue 2, pp 395–404

Toxicogenetics—cytochrome P450 microarray analysis in forensic cases focusing on morphine/codeine and diazepam

Original Article


Genetic polymorphisms in cytochrome P 450 (CYP) enzymes could lead to a phenotype with altered enzyme activity. In pharmacotherapy, genotype-based dose recommendations achieved great importance for several drugs. In our pilot study, we ask if these genetic tests should be applied to forensic problems as a matter of routine. Starting from 2004 through 2008, we screened routine cases for samples where the relation of parent compound to metabolite(s) (P/M ratio), particularly morphine to codeine ratios and diazepam to its metabolites, was noticeable or not consistent with the information provided by the defendants. We found 11 samples with conspicuous results. These were analyzed for polymorphisms of the CYP 2D6 and 2C19 genes using the Roche AmpliChip Cytochrome P450 Genotyping test. If not previously conducted, a general unknown analysis by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) was additionally carried out. For CYP 2D6, we found two cases with the genotype poor metabolizer (PM), three cases with heterozygote extensive metabolizer genotype classified as an intermediate metabolizer (IM) with probably reduced enzyme activities, but no ultrarapid metabolizer genotype. For CYP 2C19, two cases were characterized as IM phenotypes, with no PM found. Once we achieved no appropriate amounts of DNA, one case was excluded after GC/MS analysis. Only in one case could the polymorphism clearly explain the changes in drug metabolism. More frequently, a drug–drug interaction was thought to have a stronger impact. Additionally, our results suggest that IM genotypes may be more relevant than previously suspected. With respect to the small number of cases in which we thought a genotyping would be helpful, we conclude that the overall relevance of toxicogenetics in forensic problems is moderate. However, in some individual cases, a genotyping may provide new insight.


Pharmacogenetics Toxicogenetics Polymorphism Forensic toxicology Microarray CYP 2D6 CYP 2C19 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Legal Medicine, Forensic ToxicologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Legal Medicine, Forensic Molecular BiologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of Clinical ChemistryUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany

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