Challenges in the determination of total vitamin B12 by cyanidation conversion: insights from stable isotope dilution assays

Mengle Wang, Kathrin Schuster, Stefan Asam, Michael Rychlik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Previous methods for vitamin B12 (B12) analysis have extensively used cyanidation conversion with the intention of converting all cobalamins to cyanocobalamin (CNCbl) for total B12 determination. This approach has been favored for its advantages in reducing the number of analytes, increasing analyte concentration, and improving analyte stability. However, the present study revealed underlying limitations associated with this approach. First, a stable isotope dilution assay (SIDA) determining total B12 as CNCbl after cyanidation conversion (conversion SIDA method) was developed. Method validation demonstrated good sensitivity, recovery, accuracy, and reproducibility for the target analyte CNCbl. However, subsequent application of the conversion method to real meat samples showed incomplete conversions of cobalamins. These inconsistencies revealed day-to-day variability and reliability challenges associated with the cyanidation process. It was not possible to identify this issue during method validation as CNCbl was spiked as the sole analyte and it requires no further cyanidation conversion. The application of LC-MS/MS enabled the detection of trace amounts of unconverted cobalamins. Nevertheless, this approach remains restricted by instrument sensitivity and stability as well as the performance of immunoaffinity purification for different vitamers. Further development of a reliable monitoring method is a prerequisite for further optimization of the cyanidation process. However, significant improvements of analytical instrumentation in terms of sensitivity and stability are required to overcome the current limitations. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5797-5807
Number of pages11
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number23
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Cobalamin
  • Conversion rate
  • Cyanidation
  • Stable isotope dilution assay
  • Vitamin B12


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