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Determination of levamisole in feeds by liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray mass spectrometry on an ion trap


P. Gallo, Dept. of Chemistry, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Mezzogiorno, via Salute 2, Portici, NA 80055, Italy.



Test methods have to be developed by laboratories for official control to monitor possible misuse of veterinary drugs in animal productions, also through feeding stuff. A novel method for identification and quantification of levamisole in feeds by liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray mass spectrometry in an ion trap (LC/ESI-MS/MS) is herein described; after a single-step cleanup by liquid-liquid extraction from the feed and separation by reversed-phase liquid chromatography, levamisole was determined and unambiguously confirmed by tandem mass spectrometry, on the basis of two product ions. The method was in-house validated, according to the Regulation 882/2004/EC, evaluating trueness, repeatability, within-laboratory reproducibility, ruggedness, specificity, and the limit of quantification (LOQ). The method is reliable and specific for complete and complementary feeds for pigs, cattle, rabbits and poultry; very good mean recoveries (higher than 92 %) and precision (RSD values < 15.2%) were attained. The LOQ at 2.0 mg/kg was verified. Moreover, we describe how the method was developed to support Italian Police investigations regarding illegal treatments of pigs; in this case, since the drug(s) added to the feed were unknown, a preliminary untargeted analysis was performed by full scan mass spectrometry on an ion trap, from 50 up to 2000 m/z; the presence of levamisole was hypothesised, on the basis of the most abundant ion and its fragmentation pattern. Then, levamisole was unambiguously confirmed by the ion trap LC/ESI-MS/MS method. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.