Immunoassay-based detection of fentanyl analogs in forensic toxicology
The abuse of fentanyl and its analogs (fentalogs) is of growing concern globally. Forensic toxicology laboratories must detect these emerging drugs in biological evidence, and immunoassay is the most widely used screening technique. In this study, the cross-reactivity of 13 fentalogs were investigated using five commercially available kits.
Dose–response curves were generated using six N-acyl-substituted fentalogs (4-ANPP, acetylfentanyl, butyrylfentanyl, furanylfentanyl, isobutyrylfentanyl, valerylfentanyl), one desphenethyl fentalog (norfentanyl), two piperidine-modified [(+)-cis-3-methylfentanyl, carfentanil], and four phenethyl and piperidine substituted fentalogs (alfentanil, norcarfentanil, remifentanil, sufentanil). Cross-reactivities were estimated for each assay to determine its overall effectiveness for fentalog screening in toxicological samples.
Results and conclusions
Several commercial assays were able to detect either N-acyl or piperidine-modified fentalogs, but none was capable of detecting both. Although this is an inherent disadvantage of the immunoassay approach, it arises from the diverse structural nature of the fentanyl analogs themselves.
KeywordsFentanyl Fentalogs ELISA Immunoassay Urine
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
- 1.United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2017) World Drug Report 2017. Available at. https://www.unodc.org/wdr2017/index.html. Accessed 10 Apr 2018
- 2.United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2016) Global smart update 17. Available at. https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/scientists/global-smart-update-2017-vol-17.html. Accessed 29 Oct 2017
- 3.P.A. Janssen (1962) A review of the chemical features associated with strong morphine-like activity. Br J Anaesth 34:260–8. Available at. https://bjanaesthesia.org/article/S0007-0912(17)40203-0/pdf. Accessed 23 Aug 2018
- 5.U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division (2017) NFLIS brief: fentanyl and fentayl-related substances reported in NFLIS, 2015–2016. Available at. https://www.nflis.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/DesktopModules/ReportDownloads/Reports/11350_R2_NFLIS_Research_Brief_Fentanyl.pdf. Accessed 24 Oct 2017
- 7.Patel PM, Patel HH, Rot DM (2011) General anesthetics and therapeutic gases. In: Brunton LL (ed) Goodman & Gilman’s the pharmacological basis of therapeutics. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 527–564Google Scholar
- 8.EMCDDA (2017) European Drug Report 2017: Trends and developments. Available at. http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/4541/TDAT17001ENN.pdf. Accessed 23 Aug 2017
- 10.MC Mercado-Crespo, SA Sumner, MB Spelke, DE Sugerman, Stanley (2014) Notes from the field: increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths—Rhode Island, November 2013—March 2014. MMWR: Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 63(24):531–531. Available at. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6324a3.htm. Accessed 15 Oct 2017
- 12.Breindahl T, Kimergard A, Andreasen MF, Pedersen DS (2017) Identification of a new psychoactive substance in seized material: the synthetic opioid N-phenyl-N-[1-(2-phenethyl)piperidin-4-yl]prop-2-enamide (Acrylfentanyl). Drug Test Anal 9(3):415–422. https://doi.org/10.1002/dta.2046 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 18.United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (2018) Schedules of controlled substances: temporary placement of fentanyl-related substance in schedule I. 21 CFR Part 1308:5188–5192. Available at. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-02-01/pdf/2018-02008.pdf. Accessed 27 Feb 2018
- 19.Smith ML (2013) Immunoassay. In: Levine B (ed) Principles of forensic toxicology. AACC Press, Washington, pp 149–170Google Scholar
- 20.Logan BK, D’Orazio AL, Mohr ALA, Limoges JF, Miles AK, Scarneo CE, Kerrigan S, Liddicoat LJ, Scott KS, Huestis MA (2018) Recommendations for toxicological investigation of drug-impaired driving and motor vehicle fatalities-2017 Update. J Anal Toxicol 42(2):63–68. https://doi.org/10.1093/jat/bkx082 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 22.Package insert, Fentanyl ELISA Kit (2016) Immunalysis, Ponoma, CAGoogle Scholar
- 23.Package insert, Fentanyl ELISA Kit (2016) Randox Laboratories Ltd, Crumlin, UKGoogle Scholar
- 24.Package insert, Carfentanil/Remifentanil ELISA Kit (2017) Randox Laboratories Ltd, Crumlin, UKGoogle Scholar
- 25.Package insert, Fentanyl ELISA Kit (2017) Neogen Corporation, Lansing, MIGoogle Scholar
- 26.Package insert, Fentanil ELISA Kit (2017) Neogen Corporation, Lansing, MIGoogle Scholar
- 29.Van Rooy H, Vermeulen M, Bovill J (1981) The assay of fentanyl and its metabolites in plasma of patients using gas chromatography with alkali flame ionisation detection and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr B 223(1):85–93. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-4347(00)80070-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar