Date of Submission

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forensic Science

Department

Forensic Science

First Advisor

Robert Powers

Second Advisor

Virginia Maxwell

Third Advisor

Robert Lockwood

MeSH

Enzyme Assays, Lactate Dehydrogenase

LCSH

Blood alcohol--Analysis

Abstract

Enzymatic ethanol assays are widely used to determine blood alcohol content for individuals admitted to a hospital. In some instances, this hospital data is later used as evidence in a court of law, most commonly in DUI cases. As the enzymatic assay targets, but does not exclusively measure ethanol, it is theoretically possible that interference could occur and produce a falsely elevated result, leading to wrongful convictions or other consequences. This project examined the potential of clinically relevant levels of one potential interferant, lactate and the hepatic enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) to cause significant and falsely elevated results. Threshold levels of lactate/LDH required and the magnitude of the false positive observed were investigated. False positives were investigated in systems containing no ethanol as well as systems containing high, medium, and low levels of ethanol. These objectives were accomplished by adding varying amounts of lactate, LDH, and ethanol to a simulated hospital assay on a UV-Vis spectrophotometer. The data from this experiment may be applied by forensic toxicologists and pathologists in the interpretation of hospital enzymatic alcohol assay results.

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