Analytica chimica acta

Optimization of solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry for the determination of domoic acid in seawater, phytoplankton, and mammalian fluids and tissues.

PMID 22244169


We previously reported a solid-phase extraction (SPE) method for determination of the neurotoxin domoic acid (DA) in both seawater and phytoplankton by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) with the purpose of sample desalting without DA pre-concentration. In the present study, we optimized the SPE procedure with seawater and phytoplankton samples directly acidified with aqueous formic acid without addition of organic solvents, which allowed sample desalting and also 20-fold pre-concentration of DA in seawater and phytoplankton samples. In order to reduce MS contamination, a diverter valve was installed between LC and MS to send the LC eluant to waste, except for the 6-min elution window bracketing the DA retention time, which was sent to the MS. Reduction of the MS turbo gas temperature also helped to maintain the long-term stability of MS signal. Recoveries exceeded 90% for the DA-negative seawater and the DA-positive cultured phytoplankton samples spiked with DA. The SPE method for DA extraction and sample clean-up in seawater was extended to mammalian fluids and tissues with modification in order to accommodate the fluid samples with limited available volumes and the tissue extracts in aqueous methanol. Recoveries of DA from DA-exposed laboratory mammalian samples (amniotic fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, plasma, placenta, and brain) were above 85%. Recoveries of DA from samples (urine, feces, intestinal contents, and gastric contents) collected from field stranded marine mammals showed large variations and were affected by the sample status. The optimized SPE-LC-MS method allows determination of DA at trace levels (low pg mL(-1)) in seawater with/without the presence of phytoplankton. The application of SPE clean-up to mammalian fluids and tissue extracts greatly reduced the LC column degradation and MS contamination, which allowed routine screening of marine mammalian samples for confirmation of DA exposure and determination of fluid and tissue DA concentrations in experimental laboratory animals.