Multiresidue antibiotic-metabolite quantification method using ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry for environmental and public exposure estimation

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This manuscript describes a new multiresidue method utilising ultra-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) via multiple reaction monitoring (MRM), for the identification and quantification of 58 antibiotics and their 26 metabolites, in various solid and liquid environmental matrices. The method was designed with a ‘one health’ approach in mind requiring multidisciplinary and multisectoral collaborative efforts. It enables comprehensive evaluation of antibiotic usage in surveyed communities via wastewater-based epidemiology, as well as allowing for the assessment of potential environmental impacts. The instrumental performance was very good, demonstrating linearity up to 3000 μg L−1, and high accuracy and precision. The method accuracy in several compounds was significantly improved by dividing calibration curves into separate ranges. This was accompanied by applying a weighting factor (1/x). Microwave-assisted and/or solid-phase extraction of analytes from liquid and solid matrices provided good recoveries for most compounds, with only a few analytes underperforming. Method quantification limits were determined as low as 0.017 ng L−1 in river water, 0.044 ng L−1 in wastewater, 0.008 ng g−1 in river sediment, and 0.009 ng g−1 in suspended solids. Overall, the method was successfully validated for the quantification of 64 analytes extracted from aqueous samples, and 45 from solids. The analytes that underperformed are considered on a semi-quantitative basis, including aminoglycosides and carbapenems. The method was applied to both solid and liquid environmental matrices, whereby several antibiotics and their metabolites were quantified. The most notable antibiotic-metabolite pairs are three sulfonamides and their N-acetyl metabolites; four macrolides/lincomycins and their N-desmethyl metabolites; and five quinolone metabolites. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5901-5920
Number of pages20
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2021


  • Antibiotic
  • Liquid chromatography
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Metabolite
  • Wastewater-based epidemiology
  • Water fingerprinting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry

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