Immunoassay detection of drugs in racing horses. IX. Detection of detomidine in equine blood and urine by radioimmunoassay

T. Wood, C. L. Tai, D. G. Taylor, W. E. Woods, C. J. Wang, P. K. Houtz, H. H. Tai, T. J. Weckman, J. M. Yang, L. Sturma, S. L. Chang, J. P. Goodman, S. D. Stanley, J. W. Blake, D. S. Watt, T. Tobin, J. McDonald, S. Wie, R. A. Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Detomidine is a potent non-narcotic sedative agent which is currently in the process of being approved for veterinary clinical use in the United States. Since no effective screening method in horses is available for detomidine, we have developed an 125I radioimmunoassay for detomidine in equine blood and urine as part of a panel of tests for illegal drugs in performance horses. Our 125I radioimmunoassay has an I-50 for detomidine of approximately 2 ng/ml. Our assay shows limited cross-reactivity with the pharmacodynamically similar xylazine, but does not cross-react with acepromazine, epinephrine, haloperidol or promazine. The plasma kinetic data from clinical (≥ 5 mg/hors) as well as sub-clinical doses indicate first-order elimination in a dose-dependent manner. Within the first 30 minutes after intravenous (IV) administration of 30 mg/horse, plasma levels peak at approximately 20 ng/ml and then decline with an apparent plasma half-life of 25 minutes. Diuresis can occur with administration of clinical doses of detomidine and this effect was accounted for in the analysis of urine samples. Using this method, administration of 30 mg/horse can be readily detected in equine urine for up to 8 hours after IV injection. Additionally, doses as low as 0.5 mg/horse can be detected for short periods of time in blood and urine with use of this assay. Utilization of this assay by research scientists and forensic analysts will allow for the establishment of proper guidelines and controls regarding detomidine administration to performance horses and assurance of compliance with these guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-279
Number of pages17
JournalResearch Communications in Chemical Pathology and Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (all)


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