Patulin is a toxic secondary metabolite of a number of fungal species belonging to the genera Penicillum and Aspergillus. It has been mainly isolated from apples and apple products contaminated with the common storagerot fungus of apples, Penicillum expansum, but it has also been extracted from rotten fruits, moldy feeds, and stored cheese. Human exposure to patulin can lead to serious health problems, and according to a long-term investigation in rats, the World Health Organization has set a tolerable weekly intake of 7 ppb body weight. The content of patulin in foods has been restricted to 50 ppb in many countries. Conventional analytical detection methods involve chromatographic analyses, such as HPLC, GC, and, more recently, techniques such as LC/MS and GC/MS. However, extensive protocols of sample cleanup are required prior to the analysis, and to accomplish it, expensive analytical instrumentation is necessary. An immunochemical analytical method, based on highly specific antigen-antibody interactions, would be desirable, offering several advantages compared to conventional techniques, i.e., low cost per sample, high selectivity, high sensitivity, and high throughput. In this paper, the synthesis of two new derivatives of patulin is described, along with their conjugation to the bovine serum albumin for the production of polyclonal antibodies. Finally, a fluorescence competitive immunoassay was developed for the on-line detection of patulin.
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