Fumonisins are mycotoxins produced by various Fusarium spp. Fungi (mainly Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium proliferatum) commonly found in maize. They were first discovered in the late 80s by Gelderblon et al., who studied the incidence rate of esophageal cancer in the South African population. More than ten different fumonisins have been isolated and characterized. Of these, fumonisins B1, B2 and B3 (FB1, FB2 and FB3, respectively) are the major ones naturally occurring in maize or maize-based products. Fumonisins are toxic toward many different animals. Known animal diseases caused by these mycotoxins are hepatocarcinogenic effects of rats and mice, equine leukoencephalomalacia in horses, and pulmonary edema in pigs. However, their toxicity toward humans is still unclear. There is some evidence that fumonisins might be involved in the formation of esophageal cancer and might have a negative effect on neural tube development in embryos. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified FB1 as a Group 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans). For these reasons, maximum levels for fumonisin contamination have been decreed by many countries. For instance, in the European Union, the maximum permitted levels for fumonisins (sum of FB1 and FB2) in maize and its derived products are 0.2 to 4 mg/Kg. Therefore, the development of analytical methodologies for the routine control of fumonisins in food is necessary. Various methodologies have been employed for the analysis of fumonisins. Although fumonisins molecules neither selectively absorb UV light nor exhibit any fluorescence, since they lack chromophores in their molecular structure, liquid chromatography (LC) with fluorescence detection have been employed after fumonisin derivatization into compounds that exhibit fluorescence. But nowadays, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS(/MS)) and liquid chromatographyhigh resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS) are the techniques of choice for the analysis and characterization of fumonisins in foodstuffs. However, it should be pointed out that regardless of the employed detection system, sample preparation procedures (especially extraction and clean-up procedures) is maybe the most important issue in the determination of fumonisins. Various extraction techniques have been reported for the clean-up and extraction of fumonisins including simple solid-liquid extraction (SLE), solid-phase extraction (SPE), immunoaffinity procedures, the use of molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), and even QuEChERS methods. This chapter will review the state-of-the-art of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques for the analysis and characterization of fumonisins in food-based products and other matrices. Because of their importance in fumonisin analysis, commonly used as well as novel sample treatment procedures will be addressed. LC-MS chromatographic conditions, ionization sources, and MS and HRMS analyzers frequently used, as well as strategies for the structural characterization and the qualitative and quantitative analysis of fumonisins will be discussed by means of relevant applications. Coverage of all kind of applications is beyond the scope of the present contribution, so we will focus on the most relevant applications published in the last years. © 2015 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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