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Liquid Chromatographic Determination of the Cyanobacterial Toxin β-N-Methylamino-L-Alanine in Algae Food Supplements, Freshwater Fish, and Bottled Water

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β-N-Methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) is a neurotoxin originally found in cycad seeds and now known to be produced by many species of freshwater and marine cyanobacteria. We developed a method for its determination in blue-green algae (BGA) food supplements, freshwater fish, and bottled water by using a strong cation-exchange, solid-phase extraction column for cleanup after 0.3 M trichloroacetic acid extraction of BGA supplements and fish. Bottled water was applied directly onto the solid-phase extraction column. For analysis of carbonated water, sonication and pH adjustment to 1.5 were needed. To determine protein-bound BMAA, the protein pellet left after extraction of the BGA supplement and fish was hydrolyzed by boiling with 6 M hydrochloric acid; BMAA was cleaned up on a C18 column and a strong cation-exchange, solid-phase extraction column. Determination of BMAA was by liquid chromatography of the fluorescent derivative formed with 9-fluorenylmethyl chloroformate. The method was validated by recovery experiments using spiking levels of 1.0 to 10 μg/g for BGA supplements, 0.5 to 5.0 μg/g for fish, and 0.002 μg/g for bottled water; mean recoveries were in the range of 67 to 89% for BGA supplements and fish, and 59 to 92% for bottled water. Recoveries of BMAA from spiked extracts of hydrolyzed protein from BGA supplements and fish ranged from 66 to 83%. The cleanup developed provides a useful method for surveying foods and supplements for BMAA and protein-bound BMAA.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bureau of Chemical Safety, Health Canada, Banting Building, AL: 2203D, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9, Canada

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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