Higenamine (HM), an alkaloid found in various plant species, is obtained when norcoclaurine synthase selectively condenses dopamine and 4-hydroxyphenylacetaldehyde to give (S)-higenamine ((S)-HM). The World Anti-doping Agency has listed HM as a prohibited agent in athletics. As a result, many commercial, academic, and regulatory bodies across the globe are invested in finding a rapid method for (S)-HM detection. In the current study, a lateral flow immunoassay (LFA) was developed in which the relevant biosensor was generated as a conjugate of the monoclonal antibody against (S)-HM (namely, MAb E8) and colloidal gold nanoparticles. The HM–γ-globulin conjugates and rabbit anti-mouse IgG antibodies were placed in the test and control zones, respectively. The free (S)-HM molecules in the samples and the immobilized HM–γ-globulin conjugates competitively reacted with the developed biosensor in the LFA. An inverse relationship existed between the biosensors' visible response, which was noted by the variation in the intensity of a pinkish spot in the test zone, and the content of the free (S)-HM. The limit of detection of the developed LFA was 156 ng/mL. Various validation methods confirmed that the LFA exhibited sufficient sensitivity, selectivity, repeatability, and reliability, making it ideal for (S)-HM detection in plant samples and plant-containing products. The developed system required only a small sample volume (20 μL) and a concise sample preparation time compared with conventional LFAs. Thus, the LFA reported in this study could serve as a rapid response kit for the detection of (S)-HM in plant samples.
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