Detection of Serotonin, Melatonin, and Their Metabolites in Honey

Tae Kang Kim, Venkatram R. Atigadda, Pawel Brzeminski, Adrian Fabisiak, Edith K.Y. Tang, Robert C. Tuckey, Russel J. Reiter, Andrzej T. Slominski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Melatonin and serotonin, products of tryptophan metabolism, are endogenous neurotransmitters and hormones. We have identified and quantified these metabolites in natural honey from Australia, USA, and Poland using a Xevo G2 XS qTof LC-MS. To help ensure correct product identification, some samples were prepurified by RP-HPLC based on the retention times of standards, prior to LC-MS. The concentrations of the metabolites of interest depended on the source of the honey. For Australian honey, levels for melatonin and 2-hydroxymelatonin were 0.91 and 0.68 ng/g, respectively. Melatonin was detected in one brand of US commercial honey at 0.48 ng/g, while a second brand contained serotonin at 88.2 ng/g. In Polish natural honey, 20.6 ng/g of serotonin and 40.8 ng/g of N-acetylserotonin (NAS) were detected, while in Polish commercial honey 25.9 ng/g of serotonin and 7.30 ng/g of NAS were present. We suggest that addictive and health-related properties of honey may be in part dependent on the presence of serotonin, melatonin, and their metabolites, and that these compounds may play a role in the colony activities of bees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1228-1235
Number of pages8
JournalACS Food Science and Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 20 2021


  • 2-hydroxymelatonin
  • bees
  • honey
  • melatonin
  • N-acetylserotonin
  • serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Detection of Serotonin, Melatonin, and Their Metabolites in Honey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this