Rapid and selective screening for toxic phorbol esters in Jatropha curcas seed oil using high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry.


Department of Agri-Food, Environment and Animal Sciences, University of Udine, Via del Cotonificio 108, 33100, Udine, Italy. Electronic address: [Email]


Jatropha curcas L. is an inedible plant whose seed oil is an interesting source for biodiesel production. Seed cake, the main byproduct remaining (about 70% w/w) after the oil extraction process, has a high nutritional value but the presence in Jatropha curcas seed of phorbol esters (PEs), a family of toxic compounds with a tigliane skeleton, prevents application of seed cake and other byproducts (e.g. glycerin) in animal feed without an efficient detoxification. Considering the high toxicity of PEs, it is important to have a sensitive analytical method to evaluate the presence of these compounds in Jatropha curcas derivatives. In this paper we present the study of the ESI-MS/MS fragmentation pattern of the [M+Na]+ ion at m/z 733.5 of the six known PEs, namely Jatropha factors (JFs) C1-C6, which allowed to tentatively identify a series of characteristic and specific fragment ions useful to reveal the presence of JFs in Jatropha curcas seed oil, distinguish them from each other, and identify new PEs (J1-J4). Moreover, the substitution of the usual acetonitrile/water as mobile phase with a mixture of methanol/water (85:15, v/v) allowed to increase the signal of the sodium adduct of about 50-fold during the HPLC-ESI-MS/MS analysis.


HPLC-ESI-MS/MS,Jatropha curcas L.,Phorbol esters,Seed oil,

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