Aflatoxins are mycotoxins that are produced by several species of filamentous fungi. In the European Union, the concentration limits for this group of mycotoxins in food and feed products are very low (on the order of parts per billion). Thus, relatively high amounts of these substances in their pure forms are required as reference standards. Chromatographic techniques based on solid stationary phases are generally used to purify these molecules; however, liquid–liquid chromatographic separations may be a promising alternative. Therefore, this study proposes a liquid–liquid chromatographic method for the separation of four aflatoxins and impurities. To optimise the method, numerous biphasic solvent systems (chloroform-, acetone- and acetic acid-based systems) were tested and evaluated in terms of their effectiveness at partitioning aflatoxins; the toluene/acetic acid/water (30:24:50, v/v/v/%) system was found to be the most efficient for application in centrifugal partition chromatographic instrument. Using liquid–liquid instrumental separation, the four aflatoxins, namely B1
(400 mg), B2
(34 mg), G1
(817 mg) and G2
(100 mg), were successfully isolated with 96.3%–98.2% purity from 4.5 L of Aspergillus parasiticus
fermented material in a 250 mL centrifugal partition chromatography column. The identities and purities of the purified components were confirmed, and the performance parameters of each separation step and the whole procedure was determined. The developed method could be effectively used to purify aflatoxins for analytical applications.
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