Drug analysis in blowfly larvae and in
human tissues: a comparative study

Campobasso CP, Gherardi M,
Caligara M, Sironi L, Introna F.
Section of Legal Medicine,
University of Bari Policlinico,
Piazza Giulio Cesare,
70124, Bari, Italy.
Int J Legal Med. 2004 Apr 23


The present study investigates the correlation between concentrations of drugs in human tissues and Diptera larvae feeding on these tissues. Samples of liver were taken from 18 cases in which preliminary toxicological screening indicated the presence of drugs. Blowfly larvae (Diptera: Calliphoridae) were reared on these samples and subsequently analyzed for drug content. Toxicological analyses were carried out using ONLINE Abuscreen (Roche) and GC/MS for available body fluids (blood, urine and bile) as well as liver samples and maggots. All drugs detected in human tissues were also detected in insect specimens. Opiates, cocaine and barbiturates as well as some antidepressants (clomipramine, amitryptiline, nortryptiline, levomepromezine and tioridazine) were observed. Comparisons of drug concentrations between those in human tissues and blowfly larvae showed different patterns of distribution that may be attributed to differences in physiology. Results confirm the reliability of entomological specimens for qualitative analyses, although quantitative extrapolations are unreliable. All xenobiotics detected were in higher concentrations in human tissues than in maggots. Concentrations in post-feeding maggots were significantly lower than for feeding maggots, suggesting that the feeding state of maggots may affect toxicological analyses as they metabolize and eliminate drugs during development.

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