Determination of γ-hydroxybutyric acid in biological fluids by using capillary electrophoresis with indirect detection

Federica Bortolotti, Giorgia De Paoli, Rossella Gottardo, Maristella Trattene, Franco Tagliaro

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    38 Citations (Scopus)


    g-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and hypnotic which, in recent times, has shown an increasing abuse either as recreational drug (due to its euphoric effects and ability to reduce inhibitions) or as doping agent (enhancer of muscle growth). Analogues of GHB, namely gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BD), share its biological activity and are rapidly converted in vivo into GHB. At present, GHB and analogues are placed in the Schedules of Controlled Substances. Numerous intoxications in GHB abusers have been reported with depressive effects, seizures, coma and possibly death. The purpose of the present work was the development of a rapid analytical method based on capillary zone electrophoresis for the direct determination of GHB in human urine and serum at potentially toxic concentrations. Analytical conditions were as follows. Capillary: length 40 cm (to detector), 75 mum i.d.; buffer: 5.0 mM Na2HPO4, 15 MM sodium barbital adjusted to pH 12 with 1.0 M NaOH; voltage: 25 kV at 23 degreesC; indirect UV detection at 214 nm; injection by application of 0.5 psi for 5 s. alpha-Hydroxyisobutyric acid was used as internal standard (IS). Sample pretreatment was limited to 1:8 dilution. Under these conditions, the sensitivity was similar to3.0 mug/ml (signal-to-noise ratio >3). Calibration curves prepared in water, urine and serum were linear over concentration ranges 25-500 mug/ml with R-2 greater than or equal to 0.998. Analytical precision was fairly good with R.S.D. < 0.60% (including intraday and day-to-day tests). Quantitative precision in both intraday and day-to-day experiments was also very satisfactory with R.S.D. < 4.0%. No interferences were found neither from the most common "drugs of abuse" nor from endogenous compounds. In conclusion, capillary electrophoresis can offer a rapid, precise and accurate method for GHB determination of biological fluids, which could be important for screening purposes in clinical and forensic toxicology. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)239-244
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Chromatography B
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2004
    Event3rd International Symposium on Separations in the BioSciences "100 Years of Chromatography" - Moscow, Russian Federation
    Duration: 13 May 200318 May 2003


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