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. 2018 Sep;10(9):1417-1429.
doi: 10.1002/dta.2398. Epub 2018 May 23.

Phase I Metabolism of the Carbazole-Derived Synthetic Cannabinoids EG-018, EG-2201, and MDMB-CHMCZCA and Detection in Human Urine Samples

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Phase I Metabolism of the Carbazole-Derived Synthetic Cannabinoids EG-018, EG-2201, and MDMB-CHMCZCA and Detection in Human Urine Samples

Lukas Mogler et al. Drug Test Anal. .

Abstract

Synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) are a structurally diverse class of new psychoactive substances. Most SCs used for recreational purposes are based on indole or indazole core structures. EG-018 (naphthalen-1-yl(9-pentyl-9H-carbazol-3-yl)methanone), EG-2201 ((9-(5-fluoropentyl)-9H-carbazol-3-yl)(naphthalen-1-yl)methanone), and MDMB-CHMCZCA (methyl 2-(9-(cyclohexylmethyl)-9H-carbazole-3-carboxamido)-3,3-dimethylbutanoate) are 3 representatives of a structural subclass of SCs, characterized by a carbazole core system. In vitro and in vivo phase I metabolism studies were conducted to identify the most suitable metabolites for the detection of these substances in urine screening. Detection and characterization of metabolites were performed by liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS) and liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-quadrupole time-of-flight-mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-QToF-MS). Eleven in vivo metabolites were detected in urine samples positive for metabolites of EG-018 (n = 8). A hydroxypentyl metabolite, most probably the 4-hydroxypentyl isomer, and an N-dealkylated metabolite mono-hydroxylated at the carbazole core system were most abundant. In vitro studies of EG-018 and EG-2201 indicated that oxidative defluorination of the 5-fluoropentyl side chain of EG-2201 as well as dealkylation led to common metabolites with EG-018. This has to be taken into account for interpretation of analytical findings. A differentiation between EG-018 and EG-2201 (n = 1) uptake is possible by the detection of compound-specific in vivo phase I metabolites evaluated in this study. Out of 30 metabolites detected in urine samples of MDMB-CHMCZCA users (n = 20), a metabolite mono-hydroxylated at the cyclohexyl methyl tail is considered the most suitable compound-specific consumption marker while a biotransformation product of mono-hydroxylation in combination with hydrolysis of the terminal methyl ester function provides best sensitivity due to its high abundance.

Keywords: carbazole derivative; consumption marker; metabolism; new psychoactive substances; synthetic cannabinoid.

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