Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 410, Issue 22, pp 5583–5592 | Cite as

Identification of acetylated derivatives of zearalenone as novel plant metabolites by high-resolution mass spectrometry

  • Laura Righetti
  • Luca Dellafiora
  • Daniele Cavanna
  • Enrico Rolli
  • Gianni Galaverna
  • Renato Bruni
  • Michele Suman
  • Chiara Dall’AstaEmail author
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Food Safety Analysis


Zearalenone (ZEN) major biotransformation pathways described so far are based on glycosylation and sulfation, although acetylation of trichothecenes has been reported as well. We investigated herein the ZEN acetylation metabolism route in micropropagated durum wheat leaf, artificially contaminated with ZEN. We report the first experimental evidence of the formation of novel ZEN acetylated forms in wheat, attached both to the aglycone backbone as well as on the glucose moiety. Thanks to the advantages provided by high-resolution mass spectrometry, identification and structure annotation of 20 metabolites was achieved. In addition, a preliminary assessment of the toxicity of the annotated metabolites was performed in silico focusing on the toxicodynamic of ZEN group toxicity. All the metabolites showed a worse fitting within the estrogen receptor pocket in comparison with ZEN. Nevertheless, possible hydrolysis to the respective parent compounds (i.e., ZEN) may raise concern from the health perspective because these are well-known xenoestrogens. These results further enrich the biotransformation profile of ZEN, providing a helpful reference for assessing the risks to animals and humans.

Graphical abstract


Food safety Masked mycotoxins Acetylation Plant biotransformation 



The authors acknowledge with gratitude Mr. Dante Catellani from Advanced Laboratory Research (Barilla G.R. F.lli SpA) for his technical assistance.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Michele Suman is employee of Barilla G.R. F.lli SpA. Daniele Cavanna has received a PhD grant by Barilla G.R. F.lli SpA. All the other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2018_1066_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (338 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 338 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Righetti
    • 1
  • Luca Dellafiora
    • 1
  • Daniele Cavanna
    • 1
    • 2
  • Enrico Rolli
    • 3
  • Gianni Galaverna
    • 1
  • Renato Bruni
    • 1
  • Michele Suman
    • 2
  • Chiara Dall’Asta
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Food and DrugUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly
  2. 2.Barilla G.R. F.lli SpA, Advanced Laboratory ResearchParmaItaly
  3. 3.Deparment of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental SustainabilityUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly

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