Direct detection of illicit drugs from biological fluids by desorption/ionization mass spectrometry with nanoporous silicon microparticles

T. M. Guinan, P. Kirkbride, C B Della Vedova, S. G. Kershaw, H. Kobus, Nicolas Voelcker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Surface-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (SALDI-MS) is a high throughput analytical technique capable of detecting low molecular weight analytes, including illicit drugs, and with potential applications in forensic toxicology as well as athlete and workplace testing, particularly for biological fluids (oral fluids, urine and blood). However, successful detection of illicit drugs using SALDI-MS often requires extraction steps to reduce the inherent complexity of biological fluids. Here, we demonstrate an all-in-one extraction and analytical system consisting of hydrophobically functionalized porous silicon microparticles (pSi-MPs) for affinity SALDI-MS of prescription and illicit drugs. This novel approach allows for the analysis of drugs from multiple biological fluids without sample preparation protocols. The effect of pSi-MP size, pore diameter, pore depth and functionalization on analytical performance is investigated. pSi-MPs were optimized for the rapid and high sensitivity detection of methadone, cocaine and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). This optimized system allowed extraction and detection of methadone from spiked saliva and clinical urine samples. Furthermore, by detecting oxycodone in additional clinical saliva and plasma samples, we were able to demonstrate the versatility of the pSi-MP SALDI-MS technique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7926-7933
Number of pages8
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes

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