Dosage of pyrrolizidine alkaloids

Because of their hepatotoxic and carcinogenic effects, authorities set limits for plants preparations that may contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) such as Borago officinalis L. According to the « Plants decree » (2014, June 24th) they should not contain more than 1 ppb of PA. However, numerous weeds like Echium vulgare L. or Senecio vulgaris L. synthesise this type of alkaloids, and cross contaminations that may occur during harvests are frequent and inevitable. This is why health authorities, notably Swissmedic, strongly advise to extend the PA quantification assay to all the plants growing in the same biotope as these weeds.

Considering the phytosanitary issues that may induce PA ingestion and the hundreds of PA referenced in the literature, it seems paradoxical to evaluate the PA content of commercial preparations according to a short list of commercially available analytical standards that would certainly lead to false negatives. These are the reasons why Botanicert wanted to develop an extensive method for the dosage of PA by HRMS.

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