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Evaluation of ELISA for the analysis of imidacloprid in biological matrices: Cross-reactivities, matrix interferences, and comparison to LC-MS/MS

August 5, 2021

Imidacloprid is among the most used pesticides worldwide and there are toxicity concerns for nontarget organisms. Accurate and sensitive methods are necessary to quantitate imidacloprid concentrations in biological matrices to better understand their fate and effects. Here we evaluated an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit for the analysis of imidacloprid in biological samples. Following the dosing of Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) with imidacloprid-treated wheat seeds, plasma, liver, and fecal matter samples were analyzed by ELISA and compared to previous analyses that employed liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Imidacloprid metabolites—5-OH-imidacloprid, imidacloprid-olefin, imidacloprid-urea, desnitro-imidacloprid, and 6-chloronicotinic acid—were tested for their cross-reactivity to antibodies within the commercial imidacloprid ELISA kit. The two major metabolites, 5-OH-imidacloprid and imidacloprid-olefin, showed cross-reactivities of 0.93–26 %. ELISA and LC-MS/MS results were positively correlated but there was poor agreement in concentrations: plasma and fecal matter imidacloprid concentrations were higher by ELISA, whereas liver imidacloprid concentrations were higher by LC-MS/MS. Matrix interferences observed in analyses were minimized by the application of matrix-matched calibration curves. ELISA provided an effective screening tool for imidacloprid in these biological matrices, but the presence of cross-reactants confounded results. Confirmation of ELISA results by more selective techniques (e.g., LC-MS/MS) is suggested for complex samples.