Fumonisins, first identified in 1988, are naturally-occurring mycotoxins mainly produced by Fusarium verticillioides and F. proliferatum, food-borne fungi widely distributed in crops, and occur as one of the most common contaminants of corn and corn-based foods and feeds. The most abundant fumonisin, fumonisin B1 (FB1), is associated with a range of toxicological effects in animals including equine leukoencephalomalacia, porcine pulmonary edema, and rodent carcinogenicity. In humans, FB1 has been associated with high rates of esophageal cancer and the International Agency for Research on Cancer evaluated the FB1 derived from F. verticililoides as Group 2B, i.e. a possible human carcinogen. Furthermore, FB1 has been found to be a potential cause of human neural tube defects. Fumonisins bear a remarkable structural similarity to sphingosine and their mode of toxic action is in part elucidated in that they may inhibit ceramide synthase, causing accumulation of bioactive intermediates of sphingolipid metabolism. In spite of the need for efficient analysis, the quantification of fumonisins is a difficult task, since they do not bear suitable chromophores nor fluorophores for detection. Practical fluorometric-based high-performance liquid chromatography analysis methods for derivatized fumonisins have been developed since 1990 and a method using o-phthalaldehyde as a fluorescent reagent has been validated. Recently, mass spectrometry analysis has been used to identify fumonisins as liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry interfaces became more widely available. This appears to be the superior method to perform quantitative and qualitative analysis without the need of derivatization procedures. Very recently, the application of tandem mass spectrometry for confirmation and quantification of mycotoxins including fumonisins has been reported. This paper reviews those liquid chromatographic methods developed for this group of mycotoxins.
Keywords: Fumonisin, Analysis, Liquid chromatography, Fluorescence, Derivatization, Mass spectrometry