LC-MS/MS screening method for designer amphetamines, tryptamines, and piperazines in serum

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2010 Apr;396(7):2403-14. doi: 10.1007/s00216-009-3394-4. Epub 2010 Jan 13.


Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, derivatives of well-known designer drugs as well as new psychoactive compounds have been sold on the illicit drug market and have led to intoxications and fatalities. The LC-MS/MS screening method presented covers 31 new designer drugs as well as cathinone, methcathinone, phencyclidine, and ketamine which were included to complete the screening spectrum. All but the last two are modified molecular structures of amphetamine, tryptamine, or piperazine. Among the amphetamine derivatives are cathinone, methcathinone, 3,4-DMA, 2,5-DMA, DOB, DOET, DOM, ethylamphetamine, MDDMA, 4-MTA, PMA, PMMA, 3,4,5-TMA, TMA-6 and members of the 2C group: 2C-B, 2C-D, 2C-H, 2C-I, 2C-P, 2C-T-2, 2C-T-4, and 2C-T-7. AMT, DPT, DiPT, MiPT, DMT, and 5MeO-DMT are contained in the tryptamine group, BZP, MDBP, TFMPP, mCPP, and MeOPP in the piperazine group. Using an Applied Biosystems LC-MS/MS API 365 TurboIonSpray it is possible to identify all 35 substances. After addition of internal standards and mixed-mode solid-phase extraction the analytes are separated using a Synergi Polar RP column and gradient elution with 1 mM ammonium formate and methanol/0.1% formic acid as mobile phases A and B. Data acquisition is performed in MRM mode with positive electro spray ionization. The assay is selective for all tested substances. Limits of detection were determined by analyzing S/N-ratios and are between 1.0 and 5.0 ng/mL. Matrix effects lie between 65% and 118%, extraction efficiencies range from 72% to 90%.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamines / blood*
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Complex Mixtures / blood
  • Designer Drugs / analysis*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / blood
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Piperazines / blood*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tryptamines / blood*


  • Amphetamines
  • Complex Mixtures
  • Designer Drugs
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Piperazines
  • Tryptamines