International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 118, Issue 5, pp 289–293 | Cite as

Determination of aconitine in body fluids by LC-MS-MS

  • J. Beike
  • L. Frommherz
  • M. Wood
  • B. Brinkmann
  • H. Köhler
Original Article


A very sensitive and specific method was developed for the determination of aconitine, the main toxic alkaloid from plants of the genus Aconitum L., in biological samples. The method comprised solid-phase extraction using mixed-mode C8 cation exchange columns followed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS). Chromatographic separation was achieved with a RP8 column. Detection of aconitine was achieved using electrospray in the positive ionisation mode and quantification was performed using multiple reaction monitoring with m/z 646.4 as precursor ion, i.e. [M+H]+ of aconitine and m/z 586.5, m/z 526.4 and m/z 368.4 as product ions after collision-induced dissociation. The method was fully validated for the analysis of blood samples: the limit of detection and the limit of quantitation were 0.1 ng/g and 0.5 ng/g, respectively. Within the linear calibration range of 0.5–25 ng/g, analytical recovery was 79.9%. In two fatal cases with suspected aconite intoxication, aconitine could be detected in blood samples at concentrations of 10.0 and 12.1 ng/g. In one case, aconitine could also be detected in the stomach content (3 ng/g) and in the other in the urine (180 ng/ml).


Aconitum Aconitine Body fluids Solid-phase extraction LC-MS-MS MRM 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Beike
    • 1
  • L. Frommherz
    • 1
  • M. Wood
    • 2
  • B. Brinkmann
    • 1
  • H. Köhler
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Legal MedicineUniversity Hospital Münster MünsterGermany
  2. 2.Waters CorporationMS Technologies CentreManchesterUnited Kingdom

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