• Delphine Cappelle
  • Mireille De Doncker
  • Celine Gys
  • Kamelia Krysiak
  • Steven De Keukeleire
  • Walid Maho
  • Cleo L Crunelle
  • Geert Dom
  • Adrian Covaci
  • Alexander L N van Nuijs
  • Hugo Neels

Hair and nails allow for a stable accumulation of compounds over time and retrospective investigation of past exposure and/or consumption. Owing to their long window of detection (weeks to months), analysis of these matrices can provide information complementary to blood and urine analysis or can be used in standalone when e.g. elimination from the body has already occurred. Drugs of abuse are often used together and, therefore, multi-analyte methods capable of detecting several substances and their metabolites in a single run are of importance. This paper presents the development and validation of a method based on liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) for the simultaneous detection of nine drugs of abuse and their metabolites in hair and nails. We focused on a simple and straightforward sample preparation to reduce costs, and allow application in routine laboratory practice. Chromatographic and mass spectrometric parameters, such as column type, mobile phase, and multiple reaction monitoring transitions were optimized. The method was validated according to the European Medicine Agency guidelines with an assessment of specificity, limit of quantification (LOQ), linearity, accuracy, precision, carry-over, matrix effects, recovery, and process efficiency. Linearity ranged from 25 to 20 000 pg mg-1 hair and from 50 to 20 000 pg mg-1 nails, and the lowest calibration point achieved the requirements for the LOQ (25 pg mg-1 for hair and 50 pg mg-1 for nails). Although it was not the main focus of the article, the reliability of the method was proven through successful participation in a proficiency test, and by investigation of authentic hair and nail samples from self-reported drug users. In the future, the method should allow comparison between the two matrices to acquire an in-depth knowledge of nail analysis and to define cutoff levels for nail analysis, as they exist for hair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

    Research areas

  • Chromatography, Liquid, Hair, Humans, Nails, Street Drugs, Substance Abuse Detection, Tandem Mass Spectrometry, Time Factors, Journal Article, Validation Studies

ID: 38129734