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J Forensic Sci 2006 Mar;51(2):321-9

GHB free acid: I. Solution formation studies and spectroscopic characterization by 1HNMR and FT-IR.

DeFrancesco JV, Witkowski MR, Ciolino LA


In forensic evidence, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) has frequently been encountered in one of its salt forms (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), but has also been encountered in its free acid form (GHB). Owing to the physical properties, encounters of the free acid have been largely restricted to forensic exhibits comprising aqueous solutions, such as acidic beverages that have been "spiked" or formulated with GHB salts or gamma-butyrolactone (GBL). The analysis of GHB free acid presents particular difficulties including the potential for altering the original proportions of GHB free acid, GHB carboxylate, and GBL in the course of analysis, and discrimination between GHB free acid and carboxylate forms. In this work, the formation of GHB free acid in aqueous solutions (water and/or D2O) was studied as a function of solution pH. Proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1HNMR) and Fourier-transform infrared spectrometry (FT-IR) measurements were obtained on freshly prepared mixtures of NaGHB and HCl stock solutions representing a series of points along the GHB titration curve. Both 1HNMR and FT-IR were shown to track the changing proportions of GHB free acid and carboxylate forms as a function of pH, while simultaneously monitoring for the formation of the lactone (GBL). The results were consistent with acid-base conversion behavior for a carboxylic acid. 1HNMR was shown to provide an ideal means for analysis of aqueous-based GHB/GBL forensic exhibits based on simple dilution of the neat liquid exhibit, without altering the original proportions of GHB free acid, carboxylate, and GBL in the samples.

Category: Journal Article
PubMed ID: #16566765
Includes FDA Authors from Scientific Area(s): Regulatory Affairs
Entry Created: 2013-01-06