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Fatal Combination with 3-Methylmethcathinone (3-MMC) and Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB)

, : Fatal Combination with 3-Methylmethcathinone (3-MMC) and Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB). Journal of Analytical Toxicology 40(7): 546-552

We reported the case of 69-year-old man who was discovered dead at a friend's home. 3-Methylmethcathinone (3-MMC) and poppers (alkyl nitrites) were found at the scene by the police. Autopsy specimens including peripheral and cardiac blood, urine, gastric content, bile and hair were sent to our laboratory to document a possible death involving abuse of drugs. Routine toxicological analysis was performed with gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GC-FID), high performance liquid chromatography-diode array detection (HPLC-DAD), headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-GC-MS), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)-MS. After liquid-liquid extraction at alkaline pH, 3-MMC was identified with GC-MS (to allow the discrimination with 4-MMC) and quantified with ultra-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS)-MS with the two following transitions: m/z 178.1 > 160 and 178.1 > 144.9. Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) was analyzed by GC-MS for fluids and GC-MS-MS for hair. Toxicological analysis in peripheral blood revealed the presence of 3-MMC (0.33 mg/L), pseudoephedrine (0.03 mg/L) and GHB (576 mg/L). These molecules have also been found in other post-mortem fluids. Furthermore, testing for "poppers" by HS-GC-MS was negative. Hair analysis, without segmentation, demonstrated the presence of 3-MMC (206.7 ng/mg), pseudoephedrine (0.16 ng/mg) and GHB (96.3 ng/mg) and suggested a repeated consumption of these substances. However, one cannot exclude contamination by sweat during the agony period. Toxicological post-mortem results suggest a fatal combination of 3-MMC and GHB. Despite his age, the decedent was known to abuse drugs.


PMID: 27405362

DOI: 10.1093/jat/bkw058

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