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A Novel Enzyme Immunoassay for the Detection of Buprenorphine, Norbuprenorphine and Their Glucuronides in Urine

Birthe Schubert, Florian Pitterl, Barbara Saxl, Marion Pavlic
Journal of Analytical Toxicology 2019 February 7
Buprenorphine is a commonly used opioid in pain therapy as well as in opiate maintenance therapy. Immunoassays are quick and cost-effective methods for the necessary toxicological urine analysis of maintenance therapy patients. In this study a novel enzymatic immunoassay, the Thermo Fisher Scientific CEDIA Buprenorphine II assay (Bup2) was evaluated for the detection of buprenorphine, norbuprenorphine and their conjugated metabolites in human urine samples. The Bup2 assay has a cut-off of 10 ng/mL with ±25% controls, whereas the existing CEDIA Buprenorphine assay (Bup1) has a cut-off of 5 ng/mL and ±40% controls. Both assays were analyzed on a Thermo Scientific Indiko Plus benchtop analyzer. Seven-day precision studies of Bup2 assay demonstrated excellent precision of 7.2-10.6%. No crossover between control samples and the cut-off level were observed. Urine samples of 120 patients undergoing opiate maintenance therapy were collected. Immunoassay results of Bup1 and Bup2 were confirmed by gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) for buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine as well as for their glucuronides. Comparison showed a specificity of 0.99 between the Bup2 assay and GC/MS, whereas the Bup1 assay had a specificity 0.70 due to 21 false positive samples. The reason is a known cross-reactivity of the Bup1 assay to opiate compounds. The Bup2 assay revealed one false positive result close to the cut-off value; no specific candidate possibly causing a cross-reaction was detected by GC/MS and liquid chromatography tandem mass-spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) methods. The data presented demonstrate an excellent correlation of the Bup2 assay to GC/MS, showing improved specificity and sensitivity when compared to the Bup1 assay. Thus, the Bup2 assay is highly suitable for urine testing, even for opiate maintenance patients receiving high doses of morphine.


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