Fedor Kryuchkov, Silvio Uhlig (Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Norway); Alison Robertson (School of Marine and Environmental Sciences (USA), Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory (USA); Elizabeth M.Mudge, Christopher O.Miles (National Research Council, Canada), Soetkien Van Gothem (Ghent University, Belgium)
Abstract: Ciguatera poisoning is a global health concern caused by the consumption of seafood containing ciguatoxins (CTXs). Detection of CTXs poses significant analytical challenges due to their low abundance even in highly toxic fish, the diverse and in-part unclarified structures of many CTX congeners, and the lack of reference standards. Selective detection of CTXs requires methods such as liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) or high-resolution MS (LC–HRMS). While HRMS data can provide greatly improved resolution, it is typically less sensitive than targeted LC–MS/MS and does not reliably comply with the FDA guidance level of 0.1 g/kg CTXs in fish tissue that was established for Caribbean CTX-1 (C-CTX-1). In this study, we provide a new chemical derivatization approach employing a fast and simple one-pot derivatization with Girard’s reagent T (GRT) that tags the C-56-ketone intermediate of the two equilibrating C-56 epimers of C-CTX-1 with a quaternary ammonium moiety. This derivatization improved the LC–MS/MS and LC–HRMS responses to C-CTX-1 by approximately 40- and 17-fold on average, respectively. These improvements in sensitivity to the GRT-derivative of C-CTX-1 are attributable to: the improved ionization efficiency caused by insertion of a quaternary ammonium ion; the absence of adductions and water-loss peaks for the GRT derivative in the mass spectrometer, and; the prevention of on-column epimerization (at C-56 of C-CTX-1) by GRT derivatization, leading to much better chromatographic peak shapes. This C-CTX-1–GRT derivatization strategy mitigates many of the shortcomings of current LC–MS analyses for C-CTX-1 by improving instrument sensitivity, while at the same time adding selectivity due to the reactivity of GRT with ketones and aldehydes.
Keywords: ciguatoxin, Caribbean ciguatoxin, Girard’s reagent, quaternary ammonium, LC–MS, derivatization