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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Acidic Drug Concentrations in Postmortem Vitreous Humor and Peripheral Blood.

  • Author(s): Hubbard, Jacqueline A
  • Navarrete, Aylmer L
  • Fitzgerald, Robert L
  • McIntyre, Iain M
  • et al.

Vitreous humor is a potential alternative matrix for postmortem toxicology drug screens when peripheral blood is unavailable. It is easily and reliably collected and may not suffer from the same postmortem redistribution as seen in blood. Here, we compared the concentrations of 7 acidic drugs (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, salicylic acid, carbamazepine, phenobarbital and phenytoin) in peripheral blood and vitreous fluid collected in 89 autopsy cases. Analysis was done by high-performance liquid chromatography with diode-array detection. Overall, we found that vitreous drug concentrations were significantly lower than peripheral blood with median vitreous to peripheral blood (V/PB) ratios ranging from 0.0 to 0.6 (mean, 0.1-0.6). The correlations between the concentrations of over-the-counter analgesics in peripheral blood versus vitreous fluid were poor, with acetaminophen exhibiting the best linearity (R2 = 0.72). The antiepileptic drugs (carbamazepine, phenytoin and phenobarbital) exhibited good correlations between peripheral blood and vitreous humor, with all exhibiting an R2 ≥ 0.95. Overall, we have demonstrated the potential of vitreous fluid as an alternative matrix for the detection of select acidic drugs.

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