Comparison of molecularly imprinted solid-phase extraction (MISPE) with classical solid-phase extraction (SPE) for the detection of benzodiazepines in post-mortem hair samples

Robert A. Anderson, Marinah M. Ariffin, Peter A. G. Cormack, Eleanor I. Miller

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This preliminary study compares the benzodiazepine results for 10 post-mortem scalp hair samples using a classical solid-phase extraction (SPE) and a molecularly imprinted solid-phase extraction (MISPE) system. The hair samples selected for testing were from drug-related deaths where a positive benzodiazepine blood result was obtained. Samples were decontaminated with 0.1% sodium dodecyl sulfate, distilled water and dichloromethane, incubated overnight in methanol/25% aqueous ammonium hydroxide (20:1), extracted by SPE or MISPE and subsequently analysed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS). Both extraction methods detected diazepam, nordiazepam, oxazepam, temazepam and nitrazepam in the samples. Diazepam was detected in a greater number of samples using MISPE due to both its lower limit of detection (LOD) and higher extraction recovery as a result of excellent molecular recognition of the template (diazepam) imparted by the imprinting process. The selective recognition of two diazepam analogues, nordiazepam and oxazepam, was demonstrated using MISPE since they were also detected in a greater number of samples. In contrast, another diazepam analogue, temazepam, was detected in a greater number of samples using SPE since the LOD using this extraction was lower than with MISPE. Nitrazepam was detected in one sample using both extraction methods. Overall the MISPE and SPE hair results were in good qualitative agreement. For the samples, where both extraction methods detected nordiazepam, temazepam and oxazepam, the concentrations were always higher for SPE. This is probably due to the MIP procedure producing extracts with fewer matrix interferences than the extracts produced using the classical SPE method. MISPE could be used as a complementary method to classical SPE for the analysis of benzodiazepine positive hair samples collected from chronic users.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-46
Number of pages7
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2008


  • solid-phase extraction
  • benzodiazepines
  • post-mortems
  • forensic science

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