GHB-O-β-glucuronide in blood and urine is not a suitable tool for the extension of the detection window after GHB intake
Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is used as an illicit drug and is implicated in drug-facilitated sexual assault, but it also has some therapeutic uses. Detection of GHB in urine is important for forensic testing and could be of clinical benefit in overdose management. Urine GHB concentration-time profiles have not been well-characterized or correlated with doses used therapeutically. GHB levels were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry in urine collected over 24 h from 16 adults administered single doses of 50 mg/kg GHB (Xyrem) alone and combined with 0.6 g/kg ethanol. Peak GHB urine concentrations averaged 150-200 mg/L and occurred in the 0-3 h urine collection. Significant variability in GHB urine levels between individuals was observed. Caucasians had lower urine concentrations than other races/ethnicities (p = 0.03). Men had lower GHB levels than women in the first 3 h after dosing (p = 0.038). Coingestion of ethanol did not significantly affect renal clearance of GHB, but urine GHB concentrations were lower in the first 3 h when ethanol and GHB were coingested (p = 0.039). At a proposed cut-off of 10 mg/L to distinguish endogenous versus exogenous GHB levels, 12.5% of the samples collected from 3 to 6 h, 81.3% of samples collected from 6 to 12 h, and 100% of urine specimens collected from 12 to 24 h were below this level. We conclude that the detection time for GHB in urine may be shorter than the previously reported 12-h window in some people taking therapeutic doses of GHB.