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Biogenic Amines Analysis


Biogenic active amines are nitrogenous compounds formed mainly by decarboxylation of amino acids, or by amination and transamination of aldehydes and ketones. Biogenic amines are sources of nitrogen and precursors for the synthesis of e.g. hormones, alkaloids, nucleic acids and proteins. They can influence processes in organisms such as the regulation of body temperature, intake of nutrition, increase or decrease of blood pressure.

A group of biogenic active amines are neurotransmitters, like Acetylcholine, Catecholamines (e.g. Dopamine, Adrenalin and Noradrenalin) or Serotonin. The analysis of these neurotransmitters is important to diagnose oncological, neurological or neuropsychiatric disorders.

The biogenic monoamines and polyamines are important for growth, renovation, and metabolism in organs and for high metabolic activity of the normal functioning and immunological system of the gut.
They can act as free radical scavengers or have antioxidants activity.
However, Biogenic amines can be present in food, which induce toxicological risks and health troubles.

Biogenic amines can be produced by fermentation or bacterial decarboxylation of amino acids. Therefore, any foodstuff produced by fermentation or exposed to microbial contamination during processing or storage may contain Biogenic amines:

Precursor Amino Acid

Histidine
Tyrosine
Hydroxytryptophan
Tryptophan
Lysine
Ornithine
Arginine

Biogenic Amines

Histamine
Tyramine
Serotonin
Tryptamine
Cadaverine
Putrescine
Agmatine, Spermine, Spermidine

In many different types of food, Biogenic amines can be detected:

Food

Fish
Cheese
Fermented vegetables

Biogenic amines found

Histamine, tyramine, cadaverine, putrescine, agmatine, spermine and spermidine
Histamine, tyramine, cadaverine, putrescine, β-phenylethylamine and tryptamine
Histamine, tyramine, cadaverine, putrescine and tryptamine
Clinical symptoms of e.g. Histamine poisoning can be:

Cutaneous

rash
urticaria
edema
facial
neck

Gastrointestinal

nausea
vomiting
diarrhea
abdominal cramps

Neurological

facial, neck
headache
palpitations
tingling, itching
oral burning

Other

hypotension
bronchospasm
shock


Histamine in presence of Putrescine and Cadaverine can cause scombroid poisoning (presence of "scombrotoxine" in tuna or mackerel).
Analysis of Biogenic amines is normally performed by using a dedicated amino acid analyser equipped with a special column and a special set of buffers. If applicable samples can also be tested according to an in-house developed HPLC-method for Tryptophan based Biogenic amines (e.g. tryptamine, 5-OH-tryptamine or serotonin).


Biogenic amine

Major applications of Biogenic amines analysis are:

  • Quality control of raw materials, intermediates and end products
  • Monitoring fermentation processes
  • Process and storage control
  • Compliance with nutritional regulations

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