Fatal Strychnine Poisoning: Application of Gas Chromatography and Tandem Mass Spectrometry
Journal of Analytical Toxicology
The history and toxicological findings in a case of suicidal fatal strychnine poisoning are presented along with a description of the analytical methods. Detection and quantitation of strychnine in body fluids and tissues was performed by gas chromatography (GC) with nitrogen-phosphorus detection, using organic extraction and calibration by a standard addition method. Strychnine concentrations in subclavian blood (1.82 mg/mL), inferior vena cava blood (3.32 mg/mL), urine (3.35 mg/mL), bile
... 5 mg/mL), bile (11.4 mg/mL), liver (98.6 mg/kg), lung (12.3 mg/kg), spleen (11.8 mg/kg), brain (2.42 mg/kg), and skeletal muscle (2.32 mg/kg) were determined. Confirmation of strychnine in blood and tissue was performed by GC with detection by tandem ion-trap mass spectrometry (MS). GC-MS-MS analysis, employing electron ionization followed by unit mass resolution and collision-induced dissociation of strychnine, resulted in confirmatory ions with mass-to-charge ratios of 334 (parent ion), 319, 306, 277, 261,246, 233, and 220. Additional confirmation was provided by GC-MS-MS-MS analysis of each confirmatory ion, revealing an ion fragmentation pathway consistent with the molecular structure of strychnine. The case demonstrates body tissue and fluid distribution of strychnine in a fatal poisoning and the application of tandem MS in medical examiner casework. 642 Reproduction (photocopying) of editorial content of this journal is prohibited without publisher's permission.