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J Chromatogr A. 2008 Aug 29;1203(1):27-35. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2008.07.019. Epub 2008 Jul 12.

Qualitative and quantitative analysis of Radix Astragali products by fast high-performance liquid chromatography-diode array detection coupled with time-of-flight mass spectrometry through dynamic adjustment of fragmentor voltage.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Modern Chinese Medicines, China Pharmaceutical University, Ministry of Education, Nanjing 210009, China.


A novel fast high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method coupled with diode array detection (DAD) and time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOF/MS) was developed for qualitative and quantitative analysis of Radix Astragali products. The potential of fast HPLC on 1.8-microm particles was compared with the performance of HPLC on conventional 5-microm particles columns. Significant advantages of fast HPLC include high-speed chromatographic separation, four times faster than HPLC with conventional columns, and great enhancement in sensitivity with limits of detection low to 0.001 ng. With dynamic adjustment of fragmentor voltage in TOF/MS, an efficient transmission of the ions was achieved to obtain the best sensitivity and abundant fragmentation. By accurate mass measurements within 5 ppm error for each molecular ion and subsequent fragment ions, a reliable identification and differentiation of six major saponins including two groups of isomers and twelve main isoflavonoids was described here for the first time. For quantitative analysis by fast HPLC-TOF/MS, linearity of response over two orders of magnitude was demonstrated (r(2)>0.99) for all analytes. Intra-day reproducibility was below 3% RSD and inter-day values were below 5% RSD. A good correlation (slope=1.1108, r(2)=0.9853) was observed for accuracy test. It is concluded that the fast and sensitive HPLC-DAD-TOF/MS is powerful in qualitative and quantitative analysis of complex herbal medicines in terms of time savings, sensitivity, selectivity, precision, accuracy as well as increasing sample throughout and lowering solvent consumption.

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