Food Analytical Methods

, Volume 10, Issue 7, pp 2507–2517 | Cite as

Quantification of δ-, γ- and α-Tocopherol in Tomatoes Using an Improved Liquid-Dispersive Solid-Phase Extraction Combined with Ultrahigh Pressure Liquid Chromatography

  • José A. Figueira
  • Jorge A. M. Pereira
  • José S. Câmara


Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) consumption has been correlated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. This protective effect has been ascribed to different bioactive compounds present in this fruit. Therefore, to gain insights on the potential of S. lycopersicum L. as bioactive food, a fast and sensitive methodology, based on liquid–liquid extraction (LLE), dispersive solid phase extraction (dSPE) followed by ultrahigh pressure liquid chromatography (UHPLC-FLR) analysis, was developed and validated to quantify δ-, γ- and α-tocopherol in tomatoes. Upon the optimization of different parameters, a fast extraction and separation, and simultaneously, increased resolution and sensitivity was attained. The methodology was validated, retrieving better analytical performance than most methods reported so far. This included good linearity, (r 2 > 0.99) and precision (<6.4%), high recoveries (>79.5%) and improved limits of detection and quantification (LODs of 2.15, 5.52 and 1.67 ng/mL and LOQs of 7.18, 18.40 and 5.58 ng/mL, for δ- γ- and α-tocopherol, respectively). These limits are about 1000 times lower than those reported in literature. Furthermore, as far we are aware, this is the first time δ-tocopherol presence in tomato is fully characterized and quantified. The methodology was applied to different tomato varieties, ripening stages and fruit sections, revealing high levels of δ-tocopherol that increase along fruit ripening, while the α-tocopherol follows the inverse trend. Moreover, δ-tocopherol is almost fully concentrated in the seeds and skin of ripe tomato. Finally, ORAC and DPPH assays revealed that the selected tocopherols contribute to approximately half of tomato total antioxidant capacity.


LLE-dSPE UHPLC-FLR δ- γ- and α--tocopherols Method validation Solanum lycopersicum



This research was supported by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) with funds from the Portuguese Government (PEst-OE/QUI/UI0674/2013), Mass Spectrometry Portuguese Network (REDE/1508/RNEM/ 2011) and research grant SFRH/BPD/66177/2009 given to JAMP. ARDITI—Regional Agency for the Development of Research Technology and Innovation with funds from the Project M1420-09-5369-FSE-000001 is acknowledged for the PhD and BPD fellowships granted to JAF and JAMP, respectively. The authors also acknowledge Mrs. Maria José Lucas for the availability and collaboration in the tomato sample collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


The study was funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), and ARDITI—Regional Agency for the Development of Research Technology and Innovation.

Conflict of Interest

José A. Figueira declares that he has no conflict of interest. Jorge A. M. Pereira declares that he has no conflict of interest. José S. Câmara declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Not Applicable. This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • José A. Figueira
    • 1
  • Jorge A. M. Pereira
    • 1
  • José S. Câmara
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.CQM—Centro de Química da Madeira, Universidade da Madeira, Campus Universitário da PenteadaFunchalPortugal
  2. 2.Faculdade de Ciências Exatas e da Engenharia da Universidade da Madeira, Universidade da Madeira, Campus Universitário da PenteadaFunchalPortugal

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