Automated Hydrolysis, Extraction and Analysis of Synthetic Cathinones in Urine using a Robotic Autosampler and LC-MS/MS Platform


AppNote 215/2020

Synthetic cathinones (also known as Bath Salts) are a group of drug compounds designated as Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS). They are unregulated, mind-altering substances with no actual approved medicinal use. Since they are cheap substitutes for other stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine, users will unfortunately turn to these addictive and in some cases even more dangerous alternatives to achieve the desired euphoric effects.

There is a critical need for forensic, health care, and law enforcement scientists to be able to quickly assess and monitor which synthetic cathinone is involved, in order to effectively respond to cases involving these compounds.

Automating the entire hydrolysis, extraction, and subsequent analysis by LC-MS/MS provides the critically needed high throughput analysis for synthetic cathinones in urine. Using the GERSTEL MPS robotic autosampler, syringe transfer of all liquids involved in the enzymatic hydrolysis procedure, controlled mixing of the samples for a defined period, as well as extractions of the subsequent hydrolyzed urine samples using dispersive solid phase extraction were performed. The resulting eluents from the automated extractions were then introduced into the Agilent Ultivo LC-MS/MS instrument.