The Use of Mass Spectrometry to Determine Fatal Intoxication of Synthetic Cannabinoids, Baclofen, and PGAs through Body Matrices in Forensic Toxicology


  • Emanuel F Petricoin



Forensics, especially in the area of forensic toxicology, is a rapidly developing field, but due to the unavailability of tests that are simple to prepare, sensitive, selective, and able to measure low abundance analytes in biological matrices, there is a growing need for new test methods. Therefore, a novel method such as Mass Spectrometry (MS) is being evaluated in forensics due to its abilities to identify low concentrations of substances found in different types of body matrices, as well as identifying and measuring multiple toxins at once, compared to other tests that are only tailored to a specific toxin. Based upon advancements in the biomedical field, we hypothesized that MS is able to accurately measure low abundance toxins in body fluids. This study was a literature review that focused on three different papers in which different types of MS and ion sources were used to identify three different toxins and drugs: synthetic cannabinoids (Knittel JL, Holler JM, Chmiel JD, et al.), baclofen, a muscle relaxant (Szpot P, Chlopas A, Buszewicz G, et al.), and potato glycoalkaloids (PGAs) (Nara A, Saka K, Yamada C, et al.). The methods applied to these three studies include using blank blood spiked with each of these substances, as well as using samples from real overdose scenarios. These methods were validated through assessing the matrix effect, as well as overall selectivity and sensitivity. The results from these papers validated each of the methods, and found that MS was sensitive enough to determine quantitatively how much of the substance was in the blood in both the blank and real life instances. In conclusion, through the analysis of these three papers, as we hypothesized, MS is rapidly evolving and promising part of forensics due to its ability to measure accurately low abundance analytes in body matrices, and will likely be continued for future uses in forensic analyses.





College of Science: Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine