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Automated piezoelectric spraying of biological and enzymatic assays for effect-directed analysis of planar chromatograms

Azadniya, Ebrahim, Morlock, Gertrud E.
Journal of chromatography 2019 v.1602 pp. 458-466
Peganum harmala, Vibrio fischeri, acetylcholinesterase, antibacterial properties, automation, bioassays, cholinesterase, chromatography, derivatization, fluorescence, mass spectrometry, physostigmine, seed extracts, spraying, water solubility
Bioanalytical questions are more and more solved by bioassays directly in situ the planar separation. If compared to chemical derivatization in situ, several reagent applications on the same chromatogram make the workflow for enzymatic and biological assays more complex. Hence, if compared to piezoelectric spraying of chemical derivatization reagents, an assay transfer to the piezoelectric spraying technique was much more challenging. Important aspects were investigated, i.e., plate pre-wetting, spraying nozzle type and applied volumes for microorganism suspension as well as enzyme and substrate-chromogenic solutions. Finally, with the newly developed piezoelectric spraying procedures for the application of biological (Aliivibrio fischeri) and enzymatic (acetyl- and butyrylcholinesterase) assays, several obstacles of the state-of-the-art automated immersion were avoided such as the (1) required high volumes of solutions, (2) tailing of highly water-soluble zones upon slow plate withdrawal, (3) zone distortion or shift observed after previous buffer salt applications or long/slow immersion times/speeds, (4) gradual inactivation of the enzyme solution along with its ongoing re-use, and (5) lack of covering the whole plate surface. The benchmarking of both techniques also showed that simplicity remains the key argument for immersion. As proof of concept, piezoelectrically sprayed autograms were compared with those of immersion, by taking the example of Peganum harmala (P. h.) seed extract. The plate background and thus homogeneity of the applied solutions were found to be almost comparable. Three bands among the pronounced fluorescent bands were responsible for the most antibacterial activity of P. h. seed extract in the A. fischeri bioassay and were also inhibiting the AChE. These AChE and three further BChE inhibitors were detected, whereby the AChE inhibition was twice as strong as the BChE inhibition. By their in situ HRMS spectra, the active zones in the P. h. seed extract were assigned to be the AChE-inhibiting β-carboline alkaloids, harmine, harmaline and ruine, as well as the BChE-inhibiting quinazoline alkaloids, vasicine and deoxyvasicine, and the β-carboline alkaloid harmol. For the first time, the found inhibitors were calculated equivalently to the well-known ChE-inhibitor physostigmine, and thus, piezoelectric spraying was proven to be suited for quantifications.