An evaluation of commercially available solid phase extraction cartridges for the isolation of synthetic cannabinoid metabolites from urine
Forni, Amanda Marie
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Synthetic cannabinoids were first created in a pharmaceutical setting where scientists were studying marijuana. Researchers were trying to develop medically beneficial marijuana analogs. The compounds, however, were found to give physiological effects that were more potent than marijuana. Presently, synthetic cannabinoids have become a psychoactive drug of abuse, sold in head shops and over the Internet. New compounds are constantly being synthesized, which makes analysis of the drugs difficult. Solid phase extraction (SPE) is a well-studied method used in toxicological analysis to extract drugs and their metabolites from biological fluids. This sample preparation method is necessary to isolate the desired components of a sample for analysis by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC/MS). This study sought to compare four brands of commercially available SPE cartridges using a procedure from United Chemical Technologies (UCT) for the simultaneous extraction of the three synthetic cannabinoid metabolites, JWH-018 N-(4-hydroxypentyl), JWH-122 N-(5-hydroxypentyl), and JWH-250 N-(5-hydroxypentyl), from urine. The cartridges from UCT, Thermo Scientific, Agilent Technologies, and SiliCycle were evaluated to determine how they performed throughout the SPE procedure. A recovery efficiency study was conducted to measure the amount of extracted metabolites from the urine. The responses of the quantification ion of the metabolites from an extracted urine sample were compared to a neat sample and the percent recovery was calculated. A within-run precision study was also utilized to measure the reproducibility of the cartridges, which was determined by the coefficient of variation (CV) of the different brands. The outcome of this research led to a development of a GC/MS method for detection of the three metabolites, creation of calibration curves for quantification, use of SPE for the extraction of the metabolites from urine, and the quantification of the extracted compounds to determine the efficacy and consistency of four brands of SPE cartridges. Method optimization was able to minimize the interday variations seen in the results of aliquots of the same samples. Optimal parameters include initial validation of the GC/MS method, a clean liner for the analysis of synthetic cannabinoid metabolites, using a GC column with a high temperature limit, and derivatization of the extracts before injection into the GC. While this study shows it is possible to use GC/MS for the analysis of these metabolites, LC/MS does not have the same restrictions because a liner, temperature elution, and derivatization of the analytes are not utilized. It was determined from the results of these studies that SiliCycle had the most reproducible and efficient cartridges. SiliCycle cartridges had a consistent and fast flow rate with a percent recovery efficiency within ±20% of the actual value. The results from SiliCycle were followed by cartridges from UCT, Thermo Scientific, and Agilent brands, respectively.