Microcystins are cyanobacterial hepatotoxins capable of accumulation into animal tissues. The toxins act by inhibiting specific protein phosphatases and both non-covalent and covalent interactions occur. The 2-methyl-3-methoxy-4-phenylbutyric acid (MMPB) method determines the total, i.e. the sum of free and protein-bound microcystin in tissues. The aim of the method development in this paper was to tackle the problems with the MMPB methodology: the rather laborious workflow and the loss of material during different steps of the method. In the optimised workflow the oxidation recovery was of acceptable level (29-40%), the extraction efficiency good (62-97%), but the signal suppression effect from the matrix remained severe in our system (16-37% signal left). The extraction efficiency for the determination of the free, extractable microcystins, was found to be good, 52-100%, depending on the sample and the toxin variant and concentration.
- MMPB method
- Total contamination levels