Nowadays, energy drinks (ED) are frequently used or abused in private, sporting or festive contexts. However, adverse health consequences of acute ED intake remain to be clarified on a forensic point of view. We report the death of a 36 year-old man with a recent acute pericarditis antecedent in order to illustrate this challenging situation. He was found dead after an overnight party. Witnesses reported consumptions of alcohol, cannabis and energy drinks (Red Bull™) during this party. Autopsy findings consisted in acute pulmonary edema together with adhesive pericarditis. Collected biological samples were sent to the laboratory for forensic toxicological analysis. General toxicological screenings for drugs and other toxics including caffeine and taurine were performed using gas chromatography - mass spectrometry (GC-MS), liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and LC with diode array detection. Toxicological findings are coherent with ethanol, cannabis, caffeine and taurine consumption in the few hours before death. Generally, adverse effects of acute ED intake can be related to either the toxicity of ingredients (especially, caffeine), the combination of those ingredients, or specific situations like combination of energy drinks with alcohol, or cardiologic pre-dispositions. In this case, the observed taurine concentration in peripheral blood (984μmol/L) cannot be related to any toxic effect. As a consequence, the toxicological implication of the ED-Alcohol intakes could only be suggested, but not established in this fatality.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Energy drinks, Fatality, GC-MS/MS, LC-MS/MS, Alcohol, Cannabis, Taurine