Metabolism and Toxicological Analysis of Synthetic Cannabinoids in Biological Fluids and Tissues

B. C. Presley1,2, S. M. R. Gurney3, K. S. Scott4, S. L. Kacinko1, B. K. Logan1,2,4,5

NMS Labs Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, United States of America
2 Department of Chemistry, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
3 Department of Biology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
4 Forensic Science, Arcadia University, Glenside, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Center for Forensic Science Research and Education, Fredric Rieders Family Foundation, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, United States of America

 

The article Metabolism and Toxicological Analysis of Synthetic Cannabinoids in Biological Fluids and Tissues appears in the Forensic Science Review, 28:103; 2016. Abstract is included below.

Please e-mail Forensic Science Review if you would like a PDF copy of the published article.

ABSTRACT: Synthetic cannabinoids, which began proliferating in the United States in 2009, have gone through numerous iterations of modification to their chemical structures. More recent generations of compounds have been associated with significant adverse outcomes following use, including cognitive and psychomotor impairment, seizures, psychosis, tissue injury and death. These effects increase the urgency for forensic and public health laboratories to develop methods for the detection and identification of novel substances, and apply these to the determination of their metabolism and disposition in biological samples. This comprehensive review describes the history of the appearance of the drugs in the United States, discusses the naming conventions emerging to designate new structures, and describes the most prominent new compounds linked to the adverse effects now associated with their use. We review in depth the metabolic pathways that have been elucidated for the major members of each of the prevalent synthetic cannabinoid drug subclasses, the enzyme systems responsible for their metabolism, and the use of in silico approaches to assist in predicting and identifying the metabolites of novel compounds and drug subclasses that will continue to appear. Finally, we review and critique analytical methods applied to the detection of the drugs and their metabolites, including immunoassay screening, and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry confirmatory techniques applied to urine, serum, whole blood, oral fluid, hair, and tissues.

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