Validation of a high-throughput method for the quantification of flavanol and procyanidin biomarkers and methylxanthines in plasma by UPLC-MS†
Nutritional biomarkers are critical tools to objectively assess intake of nutrients and other compounds from the diet. In this context, it is essential that suitable analytical methods are available for the accurate quantification of biomarkers in large scale studies. Recently, structurally-related (–)-epicatechin metabolites (SREMs) and 5-(3′,4′-dihydroxyphenyl)-γ-valerolactone metabolites (gVLMs) were identified as biomarkers of intake of flavanols and procyanidins, a group of polyphenol bioactives. This study aimed at validating a high throughput method for the quantification of SREMs and gVLMs in plasma along with methylxanthines (MXs), dietary compounds known to interact with flavanol and procyanidin effects. To accomplish this, a full set of authentic analytical standards were used to optimize a micro solid phase extraction method for sample preparation coupled to HPLC-MS detection. Isotopically-labelled standards for all analytes were included to correct potential matrix effects on quantification. Average accuracies of 101%, 93% and 103% were obtained, respectively, for SREMs, gVLMs and MXs. Intra- and inter-day repeatability values were <15%. The method showed linear responses for all analytes (>0.993). Most SREMs and gVLMs had limits of quantifications <5 nM while limits of quantification of MXs were 0.2 μM. All analytes were stable under different tested processing conditions. Finally, the method proved to be suitable to assess SREMs, gVLMs and MXs in plasma collected after single acute and daily intake of cocoa-derived test materials. Overall, this method proved to be a valid analytical tool for high throughput quantification of flavanol and procyanidin biomarkers and methylxanthines in plasma.