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Anal Chem. 2018 Dec 18;90(24):14569-14577. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b04576. Epub 2018 Nov 30.

Monitoring Early Life Mycotoxin Exposures via LC-MS/MS Breast Milk Analysis.

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University of Vienna , Faculty of Chemistry, Department of Food Chemistry and Toxicology , Währingerstraße 38 , 1090 Vienna , Austria.
Department of Microbiology , Babcock University , Ilishan Remo , Ogun State , Nigeria.
Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science , University of Yaounde I , P.O. Box 812, Yaounde , Cameroon.
Division of Neonatology, Pediatric Intensive Care and Neuropediatrics, Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine Medical University of Vienna , 1090 Vienna , Austria.
Leibniz-Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors (IfADo) , Ardeystraße 67 , D-44139 Dortmund , Germany.
MIAEH, School of Public Health , University of Maryland , College Park , Maryland 20742 , United States.
Vienna Metabolomics Center (VIME) , University of Vienna , 1090 Vienna , Austria.


Infants are particularly susceptible toward the toxic effects of food contaminants, including mycotoxins. However, multimycotoxin exposure assessment in breast milk has received very limited attention so far, resulting in a poor understanding of coexposures during early life. Here, we present the development and application of a highly sensitive, specific, and quantitative assay assessing up to 28 mycotoxins, including regulated (aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone) and emerging mycotoxins as well as key metabolites by LC-MS/MS. After careful optimization of the sample preparation procedure, a QuEChERS protocol combined with a freeze-out step was validated in-house. The limits of quantification varied between 0.009 and 2.9 ng/mL, and for most analytes extraction recovery (74-116%) and intermediate precision (2-20%) were satisfactory. The method was applied to examine multiple breast milk samples obtained from 22 women ( n = 75 in total) from Ogun State, Nigeria. Most samples were either entirely free of mycotoxins or contaminated to a minimal extent with beauvericin (56%), enniatin B (9%), ochratoxin A (15%), and aflatoxin M1 (1%). The most abundant mycotoxin was beauvericin, which was not reported in this biological fluid before, with concentrations up to 0.019 ng/mL. In conclusion, the method demonstrated to be fit for purpose to determine and quantify low background contaminations in human breast milk. On the basis of the high sensitivity of the novel analytical method, it was possible to deduce that tolerable daily intake values were not exceeded by breastfeeding in the examined infants.

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