Determination of the neurotoxins BMAA (ß-N-methylamino-L-alanine) and DAB (a-,¿-diaminobutyric acid) by LC-MSMS in Dutch urban waters with cyanobacterial blooms

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We aimed to determine concentrations of the neurotoxic amino acids ß-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) and -,¿-diaminobutyric acid (DAB) in mixed species scum material from Dutch urban waters that suffer from cyanobacterial blooms. BMAA and DAB were analysed in scum material without derivatization by LC-MSMS (liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry) using hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC). Our method showed high selectivity, good recovery of added compounds after sample extraction (86% for BMAA and 85% for DAB), acceptable recovery after sample hydrolysation (70% for BMAA and 56% for DAB) and acceptable precision. BMAA and DAB could be detected at an injected amount of 0.34 pmol. Free BMAA was detected in nine of the 21 sampled locations with a maximum concentration of 42 µg/g DW. Free DAB was detected in two locations with a maximum concentration of 4 µg/g DW. No protein-associated forms were detected. This study is the first to detect underivatized BMAA in cyanobacterial scum material using LC-MSMS. Ubiquity of BMAA in cyanobacteria scums of Dutch urban waters could not be confirmed, where BMAA and DAB concentrations were relatively low; however, co-occurrence with other cyanobacterial neurotoxins might pose a serious health risk including chronic effects from low-level doses
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-84
JournalAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Issue numberSuppl. 2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • amino-acid
  • neurodegenerative disease
  • chamorro people
  • flying foxes
  • guam
  • cycas
  • biomagnification
  • als/pdc
  • dietary
  • produce


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