Determination of tropane alkaloids atropine and scopolamine by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry in plant organs of Datura species

Silvia Jakabová, Lajos Vincze, Ágnes Farkas, Ferenc Kilár, Borbála Boros, Attila Felinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Citations (Scopus)


Hyoscyamine (atropine) and scopolamine are the predominant tropane alkaloids in the Datura genus, occurring in all plant organs. The assessment of the alkaloid content of various plant parts is essential from the viewpoint of medical use, but also as a potential risk of toxicity for humans and animals. Therefore, a reliable method for the determination of tropane alkaloid content is of high importance. The present work aimed at the elaboration of a rapid method for determination of the most abundant Datura alkaloids by LC-MS technique using a new generation of core-shell particle packed column. Tropane alkaloid content was investigated in various plant organs of four Datura taxa (D. innoxia, D. metel, D. stramonium, and D. stramonium var. tatula), grown under the same conditions, in two developmental stages. We have developed a rapid LC-MS method for the quantitative determination of atropine and scopolamine, which was successfully applied to quantify the alkaloids in different plant organs (leaves, flowers, stems, seeds) of thorn apples after a simple sample preparation step. Elaboration and validation of the method and analysis of plant extracts were done by UFLC-MS technique, employing an Ascentis Express C18 column. Detection was done in positive ionization mode (ESI+) and the method suitability was evaluated by several validation characteristics. Quantitation limits are 333 and 167pgmL -1 for scopolamine and atropine, respectively, and the method shows very good repeatability. The analysis of Datura extracts revealed significant differences depending on the species, the organ and the sampling period. Atropine was found to be dominant over scopolamine in three out of the four taxa investigated. D. innoxia showed the highest concentrations of scopolamine in all organs examined, whereas D. metel accumulated the lowest scopolamine levels. Hyoscyamine, measured as atropine, was the highest in D. stramonium var. tatula, and the lowest in D. innoxia. Samples collected in summer had higher scopolamine levels than autumn samples, concerning both stems and leaves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-301
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Publication statusPublished - Apr 6 2012


  • Atropine
  • Datura species
  • LC-MS
  • Method validation
  • Scopolamine
  • Tropane alkaloids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry

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