Fatal intoxication by 5F–ADB and diphenidine: Detection, quantification, and investigation of their main metabolic pathways in humans by LC/MS/MS and LC/Q‐TOFMS

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EarlyView Article

  • Published: Jul 19, 2017
  • Author: Maiko Kusano, Kei Zaitsu, Kentaro Taki, Kazuaki Hisatsune, Jun'ichi Nakajima, Takako Moriyasu, Tomomi Asano, Yumi Hayashi, Hitoshi Tsuchihashi, Akira Ishii
  • Journal: Drug Testing and Analysis

Despite the implementation of a new blanket scheduling system in 2013, new psychoactive substance (NPS) abuse remains a serious social concern in Japan. We present a fatal intoxication case involving 5F–ADB (methyl 2‐[1‐(5‐fluoropentyl)‐1H–indazole‐3‐carboxamido]‐3,3‐dimethylbutanoate) and diphenidine. Postmortem blood screening by liquid chromatography/quadrupole time‐of‐flight mass spectrometry (LC/Q‐TOFMS) in the information‐dependent acquisition mode only detected diphenidine. Further urinary screening using an in‐house database containing NPS and metabolites detected not only diphenidine but also possible 5F–ADB metabolites; subsequent targeted screening by LC/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) allowed for the detection of a very low level of unchanged 5F–ADB in postmortem heart blood. Quantification by standard addition resulted in the postmortem blood concentrations being 0.19 ± 0.04 ng/mL for 5F–ADB and 12 ± 2.6 ng/mL for diphenidine. Investigation of the urinary metabolites revealed pathways involving ester hydrolysis (M1) and oxidative defluorination (M2), and further oxidation to the carboxylic acid (M3) for 5F–ADB. Mono‐ and di‐hydroxylated diphenidine metabolites were also found. The present case demonstrates the importance of urinary metabolite screening for drugs with low blood concentration. Synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) fluorinated at the terminal N‐alkyl position are known to show higher cannabinoid receptor affinity relative to their non‐fluorinated analogues; 5F–ADB is no exception with high CB1 receptor activity and much greater potency than Δ9‐THC and other earlier SCs, thus we suspect its acute toxicity to be high compared to other structurally related SC analogues. The low blood concentration of 5F–ADB may be attributed to enzymatic and/or non‐enzymatic degradation, and further investigation into these possibilities is underway.

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