Determination of urinary mycotoxin biomarkers using a sensitive online solid phase extraction‐uhplc‐ms/ms method

Jessica Schmidt, Benedikt Cramer, Paul C. Turner, Rebecca J. Stoltzfus, Jean H. Humphrey, Laura E. Smith, Hans Ulrich Humpf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the course of assessing the human exposure to mycotoxins, biomarker‐based approaches have proven to be important tools. Low concentration levels, complex matrix compositions, structurally diverse analytes, and the large size of sample cohorts are the main challenges of analytical procedures. For that reason, an online solid phase extraction‐ultra high‐performance liquid chromatography‐tandem mass spectrometry (online SPE‐UHPLC‐MS/MS) method was developed, allowing for the sensitive, robust, and rapid analysis of 11 relevant mycotoxins and mycotoxin metabolites in human urine. The included spectrum of analytes comprises aflatoxin M1 (AFM1), altenuene (ALT), alternariol monomethyl ether (AME), alternariol (AOH), citrinin (CIT) and its metabolite dihydrocitrinone (DH‐CIT), fumonisin B1 (FB1), ochratoxin A (OTA), and zearalenone (ZEN) as well as α‐ and β‐zearalenol (α‐ and β‐ZEL). Reliable quantitation was achieved by means of stable isotope dilution, except for ALT, AME and AOH using matrix calibrations. The evaluation of method performance displayed low limits of detection in the range of pg/mL urine, satisfactory apparent recovery rates as well as high accuracy and precision during intra‐ and interday repeata-bility. Within the analysis of Zimbabwean urine samples (n = 50), the applicability of the newly developed method was shown. In addition to FB1 being quantifiable in all analyzed samples, six other mycotoxin biomarkers were detected. Compared to the occurrence rates obtained after ana-lyzing the same sample set using an established dilute and shoot (DaS) approach, a considerably higher number of positive samples was observed when applying the online SPE method. Owing to the increased sensitivity, less need of sample handling, and low time effort, the herein presented online SPE approach provides a valuable contribution to human biomonitoring of mycotoxin expo-sure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number418
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021


  • Biomonitoring
  • Metabolite
  • Mycotoxin
  • Online solid phase extraction
  • Urine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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