Entrapment of drugs in dental calculus – detection validation based on test results from post-mortem investigations

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For prospective investigation of drugs and metabolites in archaeological and contemporary dental calculus, a sensitive, broadly applicable ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method using pneumatically assisted electrospray ionisation (UHPLC-ESI-MS/MS) was developed. The dental calculus was treated with citric acid and the dissolution extracts were cleaned using weak and strong polymeric cation-exchange sorbents. The method was validated on hydroxyapatite for the analysis of 67 drugs and metabolites. Typically, the lower limits of quantification were in the range of 0.01–0.05 ng for the sample mass extracted. The general applicability of the method was tested using dental calculus material sampled from 10 corpses undergoing forensic autopsy. The calculus material was washed several times before dissolution to remove residual substances originating from saliva, gingival crevicular fluid and blood. The wash extracts and the calculus samples (cleaned calculus material) were analysed using the same instrumental conditions. The dry mass of the calculus samples ranged from 1 to 10 mg. The total number of drug detections was 131 in the dental calculus samples and 117 in the whole blood samples. From the analyses of the wash extracts and calculus samples, it was proven that drug residues were trapped in the interior of the calculus material. In 82 of the drug detections, the drug concentrations were higher in the dental calculus than in the blood. Among substances detected in the dental calculus but not in the blood were cocaine, heroin, 6-MAM and THCA-A.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110647
JournalForensic Science International
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

    Research areas

  • Alkaloids, Caffeine, Cannabinoids, Cocaine, Dental calculus, Drugs, LC-MS/MS, Nicotine, Opioids

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