Thyreostatic drugs, illegally administrated to livestock for fattening purposes, are banned in the European Union since 1981. For monitoring their illegal use, sensitive and specific analytical methods are required. In this context, the knowledge of the stability in a matrix is of primary importance. This study aimed at evaluating the effects of preservation, number of freeze-thaw cycles, and matrix-related variables on the stability of thyreostatic drugs in the urine of livestock. Finally, the developed conservation approach was applied on incurred urine samples, which displayed traces of the thyreostat thiouracil below the recommended concentration of 10 mu g L-1. The stability study confirmed the negative influence of preservation (8 h) at room temperature and at -70 A degrees C, decreases in concentration of more than 78.0% were observed for all thyreostats, except for 1-methyl-2-mercaptoimidazole and 2-mercaptobenzimidazole. Additionally, investigation of matrix-related variables indicated significant impacts of the presence of copper (p = 0.001) and the pH (p = 0.002). Next, an optimised pre-treatment (pH 1 and 0.1 M ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid disodium salt dehydrate) significantly differing from the original conservation approach (p <0.05) was developed, which proved capable of delaying the decrease in concentration and improved the detection in time for both spiked as well as incurred urine samples. In the future, it seems highly advisable to apply the developed pre-treatment on incurred urines upon sampling, before thyreostat analysis. Additionally, it is recommendable to limit preservation of urine samples at room temperature, but also in the freezer prior to thyreostat analysis.
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