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Determination of basic drugs of abuse in human serum by online extraction and LC–MS/MS

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A new quantitation method for the determination of drugs of abuse (opiates, amphetamine and derivatives, cocaine, methadone and metabolites) in serum by using online extraction coupled to liquid chromatography (LC)–mass spectrometry (MS)/MS has been developed. The online extraction is carried out using two extraction columns simultaneously and one analytical column. One extraction column is loaded, while the other one is eluted by a gradient. The elution gradient also separates the analytes in the analytical column. For the sample preparation, serum is spiked with a mixture of deuterated analogues of the drugs. After protein precipitation with methanol/zinc sulphate, centrifugation, evaporation and reconstitution, the sample is injected into the LC system. The quantitation is based on the analysis of two multiple reaction monitoring transitions per drug. The recovery of the protein precipitation step is over 80% for all analytes. Intra- and interday precision, as relative standard deviation, is lower than 6%, and in the case of accuracy, RE is lower than 15%. Only the most polar analytes showed matrix effects. The limits of quantitation for the analysed compounds vary between 0.5 and 2.8 ng/mL. The developed method was used to quantify basic drugs in samples “from driving under the influence of drugs” cases. The results were compared with those obtained by using solid-phase extraction–GC–MS.

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N. Ferreirós thanks the Basque Government for her postdoctoral grant.

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Correspondence to Wolfgang Weinmann.

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Ferreirós Bouzas, N., Dresen, S., Munz, B. et al. Determination of basic drugs of abuse in human serum by online extraction and LC–MS/MS. Anal Bioanal Chem 395, 2499–2507 (2009).

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