Disposition of cocaine in skin, interstitial fluid, sebum, and stratum corneum

Laeben Lester, Naoto Uemura, John Ademola, Martha R. Harkey, Rajneesh P. Nath, Seong J. Kim, Elena Jerschow, Gary L. Henderson, John Mendelson, Reese T. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to determine whether or not the skin acts as a reservoir for cocaine. Cocaine-d5 (1 mg/kg) was administered to five nondependent, cocaine-experienced volunteers. Skin tissue, interstitial fluid, sebum, stratum corneum, and plasma were collected for 72 h after drug administration. Cocaine and benzoylecgonine (BE) levels were determined using GC-MS. Cocaine concentrations peaked in plasma at 1 h after administration, with pharmacokinetic parameters (t1/2, CL, Vd) also in the expected ranges. In skin, cocaine levels peaked around 1.5 h after administration and became undetectable by 6 h. A correlation was found between the plasma and skin AUC for cocaine (R = 0.99, p = 0.006, N = 4). BE was not detected in skin. In interstitial fluid (N = 4), cocaine concentrations peaked around 5 h after drug administration and were undetectable by 24 h. BE peaks varied between 2 and 24 h and were not detectable at 48 h. In sebum, cocaine levels peaked between 3 and 24 h. BE was found in three samples between 12 and 24 h. In stratum corneum, cocaine was measurable in only one sample from one subject. These findings suggest that skin does not act as a reservoir for cocaine. Rather, cocaine appears to be distributed rapidly to the skin and eliminated, following a time course similar to that of plasma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-553
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of analytical toxicology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Chemical Health and Safety


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