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Epimedium pubescens Maxim. and Epimedium koreanum Nakai. are two common and confused species of Herba Epimedii in Chinese Pharmacopoeia 2010 edition. Different species and growing conditions lead to chemical differences between the two species which may result in the improper clinical usage. In this work, a new method based on rapid-resolution liquid chromatography combined with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (RRLC/TOFMS) has been developed for identification and differentiation of major flavonoids in two kinds of Epimedium extract and rat plasma. The compounds were identified effectively based on the accurate extract masses and formulae acquired by RRLC/TOFMS. The fragmentation rules deduced by collision-induced dissociation (CID) were successfully implemented in distinguishing some of the isomers, further validating the results. By using the combined analytical techniques, a total of 40 major flavonoids in extracts of two kinds of Epimedium were identified within 30 min, including 31 common components and 9 characteristic components. After oral administration, three prototype compounds in rat plasma were detected by comparing the constituents measured in vitro with those in vivo, and five metabolites were identified by contrasting the fragmentation rules. The identification and structural elucidation of the chemical constituents provided essential data for further pharmacological and clinical studies on different species of Epimedium.

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1,7-Dihydroxy-3,8-dimethoxyxanthone (X1) and 1,8-dihydroxy-3,7-dimethoxyxanthone (X2) are two important xanthones of the Tibetan medicinal plant Gentianopsis paludosa (Hook. f.) Ma. They are very similar in structure, the only difference being exchange of OH and OCH3 at the 7 and 8 positions. By calculations based on the geometry of the molecules using the MM+ force field, the different distances between the hydroxyl groups of the two xanthones were obtained (4.64774 Å for X2 and 7.19412 Å for X1), therefore, the two hydroxyl groups of X1 should freely interact with more water molecules than those of X2 in aqueous solution. In other words, X2 is more hydrophobic than X1. Micellar electrokinetic capillary chromatography (MEKC) was therefore chosen for separation of the compounds. The optimum separation conditions were: 20 mm borate + 20 mm SDS (pH 9.8) as running buffer, 17.5 kV applied potential, and detection wavelength 260 nm. The two xanthones were well separated in 9.0 min, with Gaussian peak shapes. The repeatability of the MEKC method (expressed as RSD) for X1 and X2 was 0.9 and 1.1%, respectively, for migration time, and 3.1 and 1.4% for peak area. The limits of detection (S/N = 3) were 0.41 μg mL−1 for X1 and 0.82 μg mL−1 for X2. The recovery of the MEKC method for the two xanthones was also satisfactory.

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Radix Isatidis has widely useful activities including anti-virus, anti-bacterial. Tryptanthrin, indigo, and indirubin are active ingredients in R. Isatidis. Response surface methodology (RSM)-optimized infrared-assisted extraction (IRAE) was developed and combined with HPLC for simultaneous determination of tryptanthrin, indigo, and indirubin from R. Isatidis. IRAE were investigated through extraction yields of the three components and optimized by RSM. The optimum conditions were as follows: infrared power of 129 W, solid/liquid ratio of 1:40 g/mL, and irradiation time of 22.5 min. IRAE conditions obtained by RSM were not only accurate, but also had practical value reflecting the expected optimization. Subsequently, this novel IRAE method was evaluated by extraction yield of the components of R. Isatidis samples from different regions. Compared with common extraction methods including maceration extraction (ME), reflux extraction (RE), ultrasound-assisted extraction (UAE), and microwave-assisted extraction (MAE), IRAE showed higher yield with advantages of no limitation of solvent selection, low cost, convenience under optimum extraction conditions. These results suggested the potential of RSM-optimized IRAE for extraction and analysis of the water-/fat-soluble compositions of Chinese herbal medicine. A simple chromatographic separation for simultaneous determination of tryptanthrin, indigo, and indirubin from Chinese herbal medicine R. Isatidis was performed on a C18 column (Diamonsil 150 mm × 4.6 mm i.d., 5 μm) with a mobile phase isocratic consisting of methanol and water at a flow-rate of 0.8 mL min−1. The retention times of tryptanthrin, indigo, and indirubin were 15.4, 31.9, and 58.6 min, respectively. The linear equations were obtained as follows: y = −3094.5744 + 21208.792x for tryptanthrin (R = 0.9998, 0.9–18.0 μg mL−1), y = 4730.0448 + 30180.567x for indigo (R = 0.9997, 0.5–10.0 μg mL−1) and y = −6582.9045 + 67069.312x for indirubin (R = 0.9997, 0.4–8.0 μg mL−1). The result showed that RSM-optimized IRAE was a simple, efficient pretreatment method for the analysis of complex matrix.

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