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J AOAC Int. 2007 Jan-Feb;90(1):60-7.

Gas chromatographic/mass spectrometric analysis of the essential oil of Houttuynia cordata Thunb by using on-column methylation with tetramethylammonium acetate.

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  • 1Pharmaceutical Informatics Institute, Zhejiang University, Department of Chinese Medicine Science and Engineering, No. 38 Zhe da Rd, Yuquan Campus, Hangzhou, 310027, People's Republic of China. muhammad_ishtiaq2001@yahoo.com


This paper describes a simple and novel on-column derivatization procedure used with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) for the analysis of essential oil of Houttuynia cordata Thunb (HCT), a traditional Chinese medicine. In the procedure, the essential oil was obtained by hydrodistillation, and the fatty acid components were derivatized with tetramethylammonium acetate (TMAA) at 250 degrees C and identified by GC/MS. Methylation improved the determination of both the fatty acids and the other components in the essential oil of HCT. To obtain optimum methylation conditions, several important factors were investigated with pentadecane as the internal standard and a GC inlet temperature of 250 degres C. Tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) and TMAA were compared as the derivatization agent, and a 2:1 ratio of TMAA to capric acid was evaluated. Fatty acid methyl esters produced good chromatographic peak shapes and did not interfere with the determination of dodecanal and caryophyllene. TMAA is a neutral methylation reagent, and it yielded no side reactions during derivatization. It was found that the fatty acid content of the essential oil was about 81%; among the methylated fatty acids found were capric acid, methyl (43.66%), methyl laurate (16.15%), methyl hexadecanoate (9.27%), undecanoic acid, methyl (5.62%), methyl oleate (1.98%), and methyl linoleate (1.40%). Other major constituents were (-)-beta-pinene (1.02%), beta-myrcene (1.62%), 1-terpinen-4-ol (1.59%), decanal (1.49%), and 2-undecanone (1.47%). The results obtained demonstrated good efficiency for the procedure. Pure chromatograms allowed quantitation, which was obtained by total volume integration. The on-column derivatization procedure was simple to perform, and it improved the sensitivity, the peak resolution, and the selectivity of the GC/MS determination.

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