Volume 43, Issue 2 (March 1998)
Setting Cutoff Concentrations for Immunoassay Screening of Postmortem Blood
The objective of this study was to establish the optimum immunoassay cutoff concentrations for screening postmortem blood from coroner's cases for drugs of abuse with a coated tube radioimmunoassay (RIA) to ensure that the results with the coated tube RIA would be equal to or better than those with the previously used double antibody RIA. Immunoassay results (positive or negative) blood were compared to confirmed results on those cases by GC/MS alone or in combination with GLC using either a NPD or FID detector. Four to seven potential cutoff concentrations were evaluated for the drug classes opiates, amphetamines, cocaine and metabolites, and barbiturates. Specimens were 350 postmortem blood specimens and liver homogenates.
The cutoffs chosen for the coated tube RIA using this approach were 5 ng/mL morphine, 25 ng/mL methamphetamine, 500 ng/mL benzoylecgonine, and 500 ng/mL secobarbital. These cutoffs corresponded to a sensitivity and specificity of 94% and 96% for opiates, 93% and 86% for amphetamines, 91% and 96% for cocaine and metabolites and 91% and 87% for barbiturates. The double antibody RIAs were run on the same specimens with cutoffs of 20 ng/mL morphine, 50 ng/mL methamphetamine, 50 ng/mL benzoylecgonine and 1000 ng/mL phenobarbital. The sensitivity and specificity's for the double antibody immunoassay were: >99% and 96% for opiates, 83% and 89% for amphetamines, 98% and 97% for cocaine, 79% and 95% for barbiturates.