Rapid and simple procedure for the determination of cathinones, amphetamine-like stimulants and other new psychoactive substances in blood and urine by GC–MS
In the last few years an increasing number of new psychoactive substances (NPS), with different chemical structures (of which 37% are stimulants), have been released into the illicit drug market. Their detection and identification in biological samples is hence of great concern.
The aim of this work was to develop a high-throughput and rapid method for the determination of different classes of stimulants (amphetamine-type stimulants, cathinones, phenethylamines and ketamine analogues) from blood and urine samples using GC–MS.
The proposed method allows the almost simultaneous derivatization and extraction of analytes from biological samples in a very short time, by using hexyl chloroformate as derivatization agent. The extraction of analytes was performed by Dispersive Liquid Liquid Microextraction (DLLME), a very rapid, cheap and efficient extraction technique that employs microliter amounts of organic solvents.
The chromatographic method allowed for the separation of 26 stimulants including positional isomers (3-MMC and 4-MMC). The method was validated on urine and blood samples with the ability to detect and quantify all analytes with satisfactory limits of detection (LODs) ranging between 1 and 10 ng/mL, limits of quantification (LOQs) between 2 and 50 ng/mL, selectivity and linearity (5–1000 ng/mL).
The method was then applied to real samples from forensic cases, demonstrating its suitability for the screening of a wide number of stimulants in biological specimens.