Analysis of Cannabinoids and Their Metabolites in Human Urine
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Analysis of Cannabinoids and Their Metabolites in Human Urine

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  • Alternative Title:
    Anal Chem
  • Description:
    Biologically monitoring marijuana exposure from active and passive use requires both a wide linear range and sensitive detection. We have developed and validated a multifunctional method using ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS) for analysis of urinary Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol and cannabinol, and two major metabolites of THC, 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC and 11-hydroxy-THC, in active users and particularly in people exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke (SHMS). The method used positive electrospray ionization (ESI) mode to reach the sensitivity needed to detect trace SHMS exposure with limits of detection (LOD) ranging from 0.002 to 0.008 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) and 0.005 to 0.017 ng/mL for "free" (unconjugated forms) and "total" (unconjugated plus conjugated forms) measurements, respectively. These LODs were approximately 10-100 times more sensitive than those reported in the literature. To reduce or avoid time-consuming repetitive sample preparation and analysis, the method simultaneously monitored multiple reaction monitoring transitions in negative ESI mode to quantify high analyte levels typically found in the urine of active marijuana users (linear dynamic range of 12.5-800 ng/mL). The validation results indicated this method was accurate (average inter/intra-day bias, <10%), precise (inter/intra-day imprecision, <10%), and fast (6 min run time). In addition, sample preparation throughput was greatly improved using an automation liquid-handling system, meeting the needs for potential large-scale population studies.
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