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Evaluating Cross-reactivity of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) in Human Whole Blood by Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)

NCJ Number
Journal of Analytical Toxicology Volume: 48 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2024 Pages: 191-196
Date Published
March 2024
6 pages

This study evaluates cross-reactivity of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in human whole blood by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).


This study demonstrates the utility of using ELISA-based screening for novel benzodiazepines, hallucinogens and for fentanyl analogs; however, there is limited application and risk of false-negative results for the other drug classes due to low or non-existent cross-reactivities. Due to the increase in the use of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) and their overall prevalence, it is important to have effective and reliable screening technologies to detect NPS in biological matrices. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) are among the most popular screening methods. To evaluate the effectiveness of ELISA for NPS detection, five subclasses of NPS (novel synthetic opioids, fentanyl analogs, stimulants, benzodiazepines and hallucinogens) were evaluated in whole blood for their cross-reactivity on commercially available ELISA kits. A variety of novel synthetic opioids were tested at concentrations of 1–80 ng/mL and 50–2000 ng/mL and demonstrated no cross-reactivity to a morphine ELISA plate at either concentration range. Fentanyl analogs were tested at concentrations ranging from 0.01 to 1 ng/mL and had cross-reactivities ranging from 8% to 178% on the fentanyl ELISA kit used. Both para-chloro fentanyl (178%) and acryl fentanyl (164%) showed cross-reactivities well above that of fentanyl. Novel stimulants were tested at concentrations of 0.5–40 ng/mL and 20–2,000 ng/mL. 4-Fluoroamphetamine was the only novel stimulant with cross-reactivity (3,354%) to the amphetamine ELISA plate. Novel benzodiazepines were tested at concentrations of 1–40 ng/mL on a benzodiazepine plate. Cross-reactivities ranged from 36.1% to 263%, with desalkylflurazepam having the highest cross-reactivity. Finally, novel hallucinogens were tested at concentrations of 0.5–10 ng/mL on a phencyclidine (PCP) ELISA plate, which produced no cross-reactivity and then with 10–1,000 ng/mL, which gave results from 56.6% to 151%. Both hydroxy-PCP (151%) and chloro-PCP (137%) showed cross-reactivities above that of PCP. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: March 1, 2024