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Just Science Podcast: Episode 44: Drugs: Just Liver Die

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2018
2 pages

In this fourth episode in the "Drugs Season" series of Just Science podcasts, Dr. Carl Wolf, from the Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University, is interviewed about his NIJ-funded research described in a report entitled, "Liver Doesn't DIE, or At Least Its Enzymes, and Other Useful Information Discovered While Evaluating the Effect of Sample Preparation Techniques on Matrix Effects and Absolute Recovery of Opiates in Liver Tissue Using UPLC-MS/MS."


Wolf discusses his team's work in postmortem forensic analysis for the presence of opiates. The identification of drugs in blood or urine, which is typical in living subjects, is compromised by changes in these substances after death. Although liver hepatocyte may die in a couple of days after death, the liver enzymes within the hepatocyte are still active for at least 4 months when stored frozen. The disadvantages of analyzing the liver are the interferences by protein and fatty matrices and potential putrification. This requires effective cleanup or sample preparation before analysis of the liver. Wolf's research evaluated prepared liver samples for opiates using a previously validated ultra-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry method (UPLC-MS/MS). The research used 10 different sample preparation techniques. The interview focuses on various issues in the research methodology and the significance of results.

Date Published: May 1, 2018