Radioimmunoassay of hair for determining opiate-abuse histories

J Nucl Med. 1979 Jul;20(7):748-52.


Heroin and morphine metabolites can be detected in hair with the use of commercially available radioimmunoassay reagents and with minor sample preparation. Hair samples obtained from morphine-treated mice and heroin users contained nanogram levels of the drug per milligram of hair (single human hair). The results of the hair analyses for all subjects admitting the use of heroin were positive, whereas the results of only 30% of thin-layer chromatographic urinanalyses of these same subjects were positive. In addition, differences in drug concentration for sections of hair near the scalp and near the distal end correlated with the length of time the drug had been used. These results exemplify the potential advantages of the use of hair analysis over urine and serum analyses in terms of accessibility, sample stability, and long-term retention of information.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Hair / analysis*
  • Heroin / analysis
  • Heroin Dependence / diagnosis
  • Heroin Dependence / urine
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Morphine / analysis
  • Morphine Dependence / diagnosis
  • Morphine Dependence / urine
  • Narcotics / analysis*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Radioimmunoassay*
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic*


  • Narcotics
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Heroin
  • Morphine