Study of the urinary biomarkers of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) for the forensic unequivocal proof of consumption: medico-legal implications for drug abuse prevention

Giorgetti, Arianna (2024) Study of the urinary biomarkers of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) for the forensic unequivocal proof of consumption: medico-legal implications for drug abuse prevention, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze mediche generali e scienze dei servizi, 36 Ciclo.
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Introduction. Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) represent the widest group of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and, around 2021-2022, new compounds emerged on the market. The aims of the present research were to identify suitable urinary markers of Cumyl-CB-MEGACLONE, Cumyl-NB-MEGACLONE, Cumyl-NB-MINACA, 5F-EDMB-PICA, EDMB-PINACA and ADB-HEXINACA, to present data on their prevalence and to adapt the methodology from the University of Freiburg to the University of Bologna. Materials and methods. Human phase-I metabolites detected in 46 authentic urine samples were confirmed in vitro with pooled human liver microsomes (pHLM) assays, analyzed by liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-qToF-MS). Prevalence data were obtained from urines collected for abstinence control programs. The method to study SCRAs metabolism in use at the University of Freiburg was adapted to the local facilities, tested in vitro with 5F-EDMB-PICA and applied to the study of ADB-HEXINACA metabolism. Results. Metabolites built by mono, di- and tri-hydroxylation were recommended as specific urinary biomarkers to monitor the consumption of SCRAs bearing a cumyl moiety. Monohydroxylated and defluorinated metabolites were suitable proof of 5F-EDMB-PICA consumption. Products of monohydroxylation and amide or ester hydrolysis, coupled to monohydroxylation or ketone formation, were recognized as specific markers for EDMB-PINACA and ADB-HEXINACA. The LC-qToF-MS method was successfully adapted to the University of Bologna, as tested with 5F-EDMB-PICA in vitro metabolites. Prevalence data showed that 5F-EDMB-PINACA and EDMB-PINACA were more prevalent than ADB-HEXINACA, but for a limited period. Conclusion. Due to undetectability of parent compounds in urines and to shared metabolites among structurally related compounds, the identification of specific urinary biomarkers as unequivocal proofs of SCRAs consumption remains challenging for forensic laboratories. Urinary biomarkers are necessary to monitor SCRAs abuse and prevalence data could help in establishing tailored strategies to prevent their spreading, highlighting the role for legal medicine as a service to public health.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Giorgetti, Arianna
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
forensic toxicology; new psychoactive substances (NPS); synthetic cannabinoids (SCs); abuse prevention; urinary biomarkers
Data di discussione
5 Aprile 2024

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