Determination of Ergot Alkaloids: Purity and Stability Assessment of Standards and Optimization of Extraction Conditions for Cereal Samples

R. Krska, F. Berthiller, R. Schuhmacher, Kristian Fog Nielsen, C. Crews

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    Results obtained from a purity study on standards of the 6 major ergot alkaloids ergometrine, ergotamine, ergosine, ergocristine, ergocryptine, and ergocornine and their corresponding epimers are discussed. The 6 ergot alkaloids studied have been defined by the European Food Safety Authority as those that are the most common and physiologically active. The purity of the standards was investigated by means of liquid chromatography with diode array detection, electrospray ionization, and time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-DAD-ESI-TOF-MS). All of the standards assessed showed purity levels considerably above 98% apart from ergocristinine (94%), ergosine (96%), and ergosinine (95%). Also discussed is the optimization of extraction conditions presented in a recently published method for the quantitation of ergot alkaloids in food samples using solid-phase extraction with primary secondary amine (PSA) before LC/MS/MS. Based on the results obtained from these optimization studies, a mixture of acetonitrile with ammonium carbonate buffer was used as extraction solvent, as recoveries for all analyzed ergot alkaloids were significantly higher than those with the other solvents. Different sample-solvent ratios and extraction times showed just minor influences in extraction efficacy. Finally, the stability of the ergot alkaloids in both raw cereals and cereal-based processed food extracts was studied. According to these studies, extracts should be prepared and analyzed the same day or stored below ambient temperatures. Barley and rye extracts, which were stored at 4 and 15 degrees C after PSA cleanup, proved to be stable overnight. However, storage over a period of 14 days at 4 degrees C resulted in significant epimerization, which was most pronounced in rye and particularly for ergocornine, ergocryptine, and ergocristine.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of AOAC International
    Issue number6
    Pages (from-to)1363-1371
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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