Molecular modeling and experimental study of a new peptide-based microextraction fiber for preconcentrating morphine in urine samples

  • Bamdad Riahi-Zanjani
  • Mahdi Balali-Mood
  • Zarrin Es’haghi
  • Ahmad Asoodeh
  • Adel Ghorani-AzamEmail author
Original Paper


Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are best known for their bactericidal properties; however, due to their unique and flexible structures, they have also been proposed as potential selective sorbents for specific molecules. In the present study, we aimed to design and produce a new peptide-based microextraction fiber for preconcentrating morphine in urine samples. The binding of morphine to the peptide was first evaluated by computational simulation using the Molecular Operating Environment (MOE) 2015.10 software. A similar study was then performed using DS BIOVIA Materials Studio 2017 v17.1.0.48, which confirmed the results of the simulation carried out with MOE. Afterwards, those results were also confirmed by experimental research. In the experimental evaluation, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were initially carboxylated with H2SO4/HNO3 (3:1) and then functionalized with the peptide. FTIR analysis, Raman measurements, and SEM imaging were used to confirm that CNT functionalization was successful as well as to check the nanostructure of the fiber. To evaluate the functionality of the fiber, it was inserted into a microtube containing a urine sample that included morphine and then sonicated for 5 min at 40 °C. Afterwards, the fiber was washed with methanol 20% (H2O/methanol) and the resulting sample was analyzed by HPLC. This procedure was repeated for different concentrations of morphine in the urine sample. The computational and experimental results showed that a morphine concentration as low as 0.25 ppb in urine could be adsorbed and detected using the peptide fiber. Therefore, given its semi-selective binding affinity for morphine, this peptide-based fiber can be considered a new approach to the detection of small amounts of morphine in biological samples.


Antimicrobial peptides Computational simulation Chemical structure Molecular docking Microextraction fiber 



The results described in this paper were part of the corresponding author’s Ph.D. thesis. The research project was supported by the Vice Chancellorship for Research, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (grant no: 930829).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest between the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Toxicology Research CenterMashhad University of Medical SciencesMashhadIran
  2. 2.Medical Toxicology and Drug Abuse Research CenterBirjand University of Medical SciencesBirjandIran
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryPayame Noor UniversityMashhadIran
  4. 4.Department of Chemistry, Faculty of ScienceFerdowsi University of MashhadMashhadIran

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