Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a central nervous system depressant endogenously
produced and also employed as a recreational drug of abuse since the 90s, attracting
notable attention particularly in those cases of drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA). The
implication of GHB among DFSA cases generates numerous concerns, making the interpretation
of the toxicological findings often significantly difficult. In this review the Authors have explored GHB
behaviour in ante-mortem and post-mortem specimens, taking into consideration its endogenous production,
the post mortem interval, the time between sampling and analysis, the storage conditions (temperature and
presence/absence of preservatives) and the usefulness of alternative matrices such as hair, bile and vitreous
humour. Moreover, the cut-off values currently recommended in forensic toxicology in order to discriminate
between endogenous and exogenous levels have been examined.
Keywords: Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), cut-off values, endogenous and post-mortem behaviour,
post-mortem interval (PMI), storage conditions.
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