Comparison of approaches to deal with matrix effects in LC-MS/MS based determinations of mycotoxins in food and feed

Fabregat-Cabello, N.; Zomer, P.; Sancho, J.V.; Roig-Navarro, A.F.; Mol, H.G.J.


This study deals with one of the major concerns in mycotoxin determinations: The matrix effect related to LC-MS/ MS systems with electrospray ionization sources. To this end, in a first approach, the matrix effect has been evaluated in two ways: monitoring the signal of a compound (added to the mobile phase) during the entire chromatographic run, and by classical post-extraction addition. The study was focused on nine selected mycotoxins: Aflatoxin B1, fumonisins B1, B2 and B3, ochratoxin A, deoxynivalenol, T-2 and HT-2 toxins and zearalenone in various sample extracts giving moderate to strong matrix effects (maize, compound feed, straw, spices). Although the permanent monitoring of a compound provided a qualitative way of evaluating the matrix effects at each retention time, we concluded that it was not adequate as a quantitative approach to correct for the matrix effect. Matrix effects measured by post-extraction addition showed that the strongest ion suppression occurred for the spices (up to -89%). Five different calibration approaches to compensate for matrix effects were compared: multi-level external calibration using isotopically labelled internal standards, multi-level and single level standard addition, and two ways of singlepoint internal calibration: one point isotopic internal calibration and isotope pattern deconvolution. In general, recoveries and precision meeting the European Union requirements could be achieved with all approaches, with the exception of the single level standard addition at levels too close to the concentration in the sample. When an isotopically labelled internal standard is not available, single-level standard addition is the most efficient option.