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Detection in seized samples, analytical characterization, and in vitro metabolism of the newly emerged 5-bromo-indazole-3-carboxamide synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists

NCJ Number
Drug Testing and Analysis Volume: Online Dated: 2023 Pages: 1-21
Date Published
21 pages

In this paper, researchers discuss newly emerged 5-bromo-indazole-3-carboxamide synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists.    


This study reports the first synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) to be detected with a bromide at the 5 position (5′Br) on the phenyl ring of the indazole core and without a tail moiety. ADB-5′Br-INACA (ADMB-5′Br-INACA) and MDMB-5′Br-INACA were detected in seized samples from Scottish prisons, Belgian customs, and US forensic casework. The brominated analog with a tail moiety, ADB-5′Br-BUTINACA (ADMB-5′Br-BUTINACA), was also detected in Scottish prisons and US forensic casework. The metabolites of these compounds and the predicted compound MDMB-5′Br-BUTINACA were identified through incubation with primary human hepatocytes to aid in their toxicological identification. The bromide on the indazole remains intact on metabolites, allowing these compounds to be easily distinguished in toxicological samples from their non-brominated analogs. Glucuronidation was more common for tail-less analogs than their butyl tail-containing counterparts. Forensic toxicologists are advised to update their analytical methods with the characteristic ions for these compounds, as well as their anticipated urinary markers: amide hydrolysis and monoOH at tert-butyl metabolites (after β-glucuronidase treatment) for ADB-5′Br-INACA; monoOH at tert-butyl and amide hydrolysis metabolites for ADB-5′Br-BUTINACA; and ester hydrolysis metabolites with additional metabolites for MDMB-5′Br-INACA and MDMB-5′Br-BUTINACA. Toxicologists should remain vigilant to the emergence of new SCRAs with halogenation of the indazole core and tail-less analogs, which have already started to emerge. Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) are a diverse class of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and new structural scaffolds have emerged on the recreational drug market since the enactment of Chinese SCRA analog controls in 2021. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2023