A reliable solid phase microextraction-gas chromatography-triple quadrupole mass spectrometry method for the assay of selenomethionine and selenomethylselenocysteine in aqueous extracts: difference between selenized and not-enriched selenium potatoes

Anal Chim Acta. 2012 Oct 17;747:58-66. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2012.08.016. Epub 2012 Aug 23.


A new analytical approach is exploited in the assay of selenium speciation in selenized and not selenium enriched potatoes based on the widely available solid-phase microextraction (SPME) coupled to-GC-triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (SPME-GC-QqQ MS) method. The assay of selenomethionine (SeMet) and selenomethylselenocysteine (SeMeSeCys) in potatoes here reported provides clues to the effectiveness of SPME technique combined with gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, which could be of general use. For the exploitation of the GC method, the selected analytes were converted into their N(O,S)-alkoxycarbonyl alkyl esters derivatives by direct treatment with alkyl chloroformate in aqueous extracts. The performance of five SPME fibers and three chloroformates were tested in univariate mode and the best results were obtained using the divinylbenzene/carboxen/polydimethylsiloxane fiber and propylchloroformate. The variables affecting the efficiency of SPME analysis were optimized by the multivariate approach of design of experiment (DoE) and, in particular, a central composite design (CCD) was applied. Tandem mass spectrometry in selected reaction monitoring (SRM) has allowed the elimination of matrix interferences, providing reconstructed chromatograms with well-resolved peaks and the achievement of very satisfactory detection and quantification limits. Both precision and recovery of the proposed protocol tested at concentration of 8 and 40 μg kg(-1) (dry matter), offered values ranging from 82.3 to 116.3% and from 8.5 to 13.1% for recovery and precision, respectively. The application of the method to commercial samples of selenized and not selenium enriched potatoes proved that the Se fertilization increases significantly the concentration of these bioavailable selenoamino acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Limit of Detection
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Selenium / metabolism
  • Selenocysteine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Selenocysteine / analysis
  • Selenomethionine / analysis*
  • Solanum tuberosum
  • Solid Phase Microextraction / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Water
  • Selenocysteine
  • Selenomethionine
  • Selenium
  • selenomethylselenocysteine