Article

Markers of chronic alcohol use in hair: Comparison of ethyl glucuronide and cocaethylene in cocaine users

Department of Legal Medicine & Public Health, University of Pavia, Via Forlanini 12, I-27100 Pavia, Italy.
Forensic science international (Impact Factor: 2.12). 11/2007; 172(1):23-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2006.11.007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Two direct ethanol metabolites, namely ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and cocaethylene (CE), in the hair of cocaine (COC) users were compared in this study. Hair samples (n=68) were submitted to the determination of EtG (by liquid chromatography-electrospray-tandem mass spectrometry) and of COC and metabolites, including CE (by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry). Quantitative and qualitative results were compared. No quantitative correlation was found between EtG and CE, as well as between EtG and the cocaethylene concentration divided by the concentration of COC and its metabolites (benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methylester, as COC equivalents). Nevertheless, many factors are supposed to affect the amount of the two substances incorporated in the hair matrix, such as the subject's habits in ethanol and COC use, genetic variability in the metabolism of both substances, and the different chemical and physical properties of EtG and CE. When establishing a cut-off of 4 pg/mg for EtG and of 200 pg/mg for CE, 47 samples tested positive for EtG and 41 samples tested positive for CE; 12 samples out of the 47 EtG-positives tested negative for CE (25%), whereas 6 samples out of the 41 CE-positives tested negative for EtG (15%). According to these data, EtG appears to be a more sensitive and specific marker of non-moderate alcohol users than CE.

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