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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2013 Nov;405(27):8807-17. doi: 10.1007/s00216-013-7303-5. Epub 2013 Sep 19.

In vitro metabolic study of Rhizoma coptidis extract using liver microsomes immobilized on magnetic nanoparticles.

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  • 1Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 416, Chengdu, Sichuan, China.


Although metabolic study of individual active compounds isolated from herbal plants has been intensive, it cannot truly reflect the fate of herbs because the herbal extracts in use have many constituents. To address this problem, whole extracts of herbs should be investigated. Microsomes have been heavily used in the in vitro metabolic study of drugs, and various materials have been used to immobilize microsomes to develop highly effective and reusable bioreactors in this field. In this work, rat liver microsomes were immobilized on magnetic nanoparticles (LMMNPs) to develop a highly active and recoverable nanoparticle bioreactor. Using this bioreactor, we investigated the in vitro metabolism of Rhizoma coptidis extract. Incubation of berberine, a major active ingredient of R. coptidis, with LMMNPs for 20 min produced two metabolites, i.e., demethyleneberberine and thalifendine, at high levels. From a comparison of the time courses of thalifendine formation obtained by ultraperformance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis, it was found that LMMNPs had a higher biological activity than free liver microsomes in metabolizing berberine. Further, the activity of LMMNPs remained almost unchanged after six consecutive uses in the incubation tests. Metabolism of R. coptidis extracts by LMMNPs was studied. The same two metabolites of berberine, i.e., demethyleneberberine and thalifendine, were detected. After a thorough study seeking support for this observation, it was found that demethyleneberberine was the common metabolite of five protoberberine-type alkaloids present in R. coptidis extract, including palmatine, jatrorrhizine, columbanine, epiberberine, and berberine.

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