Interpretation of the presence of 6-monoacetylmorphine in the absence of morphine-3-glucuronide in urine samples: evidence of heroin abuse
von Euler M, Villen T, Svensson JO, Stahle L.
Division of CLinical Pharmacology,
Huddinge University Hospital,
Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Ther Drug Monit. 2003 Oct;25(5):645-8..
ABSTRACTThe presence of morphine in a urinary sample may be caused not only by intake of heroin but also by intake of poppy-seed-containing food shortly before urine sampling or intake of drugs containing morphine, ethyl morphine, or codeine. To facilitate the interpretation, the heroin-specific metabolite 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM) can be analyzed along with morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G) in an LC-MS verification analysis. In sporadic samples positive in the immunologic opiate screening test, 6-MAM, but not M3G, was found. To systematically analyze the finding all specimens with positive 6-MAM and/or M3G found during a 1-year period were investigated (n = 1923). Of these, 423 were positive for 6-MAM. In 32 (7.6%) of the samples 6-MAM was detected while the M3G concentrations were below cutoff (300 ng/mL) and in some cases even below the limit of detection (15 ng/mL). The 32 samples with this excretion pattern came from 13 different individuals, all but one with previously known heroin abuse. Eleven urine samples, nine containing M3G and 6-MAM and two with only 6-MAM, were also analyzed for the presence of heroin. In six samples, including the two with only 6-MAM, heroin was detected. There are several plausible explanations for these findings. The intake may have taken place shortly before urine sampling. High concentrations of heroin and 6-MAM may inhibit UGT 2B7, the enzyme responsible for glucuronidation of morphine. The hydrolyzation of 6-MAM to morphine may be disturbed by either internal or external causes. To elucidate this, further studies are required. Nevertheless, our finding demonstrates that routine measurement of 6-MAM when verifying opioid-positive immunologic screening results facilitates interpretation of low concentrations of M3G in urine specimens.Pain
High 6-MAM in heroin users
Mu opioid receptor subtypes
6-monoacetylmorphine and the mu receptors