Novel Methods for the Selective and Sensitive Detection of BMAA
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β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) is a neurotoxin first discovered in cycads and implicated as a possible cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/parkinsonism dementia complex (ALS/PDC) in Guam’s Chamorro population. Due to recent reports of the widespread presence of BMAA in cyanobacteria and seafood, there is concern over global public health. LC-MS is currently the method of choice for BMAA detection, but there are concerns over false positives from incomplete separation of isomeric and isobaric compounds or false negatives due to factors such as matrix suppression. Varying results from studies analyzing different samples with non-validated methods has led to considerable controversy within the field. In this study, hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography-differential mobility spectrometry-tandem mass spectrometry (HILIC-DMS-MS/MS) and capillary electrophoresis-tandem mass spectrometry (CE-MS/MS) were developed as alternative complementary analytical methods for the determination of BMAA. These methods were initiated as part of an overall effort by the National Research Council of Canada to create certified reference materials (CRM) for BMAA in order to establish accuracy and traceability to the field.