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Improved Detection of Kratom Alkaloids in Forensic Toxicology

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2019
291 pages

The goal of this research was to improve the analysis of mitragyna speciosa (kratom) alkaloids in toxicological specimens and increase knowledge of their properties and drug metabolism.


Kratom is a botanical drug with psychoactive properties that produce both stimulant and opiate effects, depending on the dosage. Its major psychoactive components are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. This drug may not be included as part of routine toxicological screening, so its use may be underreported. Recently, kratom usage has been increasing in the United States and Europe. It is now widely available online and in retail outlets, marketed as a safe, natural, and legal alternative to opiates. The lack of legislation, wide availability, and low cost compared to other illicit substances has increased its popularity. The current project analyzed five mitragyna alkaloids, including speciociliatine (SC), mitragynine (MG), paynantheine (PY), speciogynine (SG), and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-MG-OH). They were analyzed in blood and urine, using liquid chromatography quadrupole/time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-Q/TOF-MS). Recombinant human cytochrome P450 isoenzymes (rCYPs) were used to investigate the biotransformational pathways involved during drug metabolism. Simultaneous identification of all five alkaloids, including isomers of mitragynine, was achieved at low to sub-ng/ml concentrations. Using deuterated internal standards, the method was fully validated for forensic use. 38 figures, 30 tables, and 123 references

Date Published: October 1, 2019