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Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been widely used in many countries for thousands of years and played an indispensable role in the prevention and treatment of diseases, especially the complicated and chronic ones. However, the application of TCM in diseases is still not fully recognized by people around the world, the main reason is that Chinese herb is a very complex mixture containing hundreds of different components. Thus, it is essential to make quality control and evaluation of TCM. A new quality evaluation method, quantitative analysis of multi-components by single marker (QAMS), was developed to the quality control of alkaloids in TCM, a case study on Radix aconiti lateralis, named Fuzi in Chinese. Six alkaloids, including aconitine, hypaconitine, mesaconitine, benzoylaconine, benzoylmesaconine, and benzoylhypaconine, were selected as main components to evaluate the quality of Radix aconiti lateralis. The feasibility and accuracy of QAMS were checked by the external standard method, and various high-performance liquid chromatographic instruments and chromatographic conditions were investigated to verify its applicability. Using aconitine as the internal reference substance and the content of aconitine was calculated according to relative correction factors by high-performance liquid chromatography. The present results showed that there was no significant difference observed between the QAMS method and the external standard method with the relative average deviations less than 3.0%, and QAMS is an effective way to control the quality of herbal medicines and seems to be a convenient and accurate approach to analyze multi-composition when reference substances are unavailable.

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Compound danshen preparations (CDPs) are used clinically for the treatment of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. By using the quantitative analysis of multi-components by single-marker (QAMS) method, sixteen compounds (danshensu, protocatechuic acid, protocatechuicaldehyde, caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid, lithospermic acid, notoginsenoside R1, salvianolic acid B, ginsenoside Rg1, ginsenoside Re, salvianolic acid A, salvianolic acid C, ginsenoside Rb1, ginsenoside Rd, cryptotanshinone, and tanshinone IIA were quantified on an ACQUITY ultraperformance liquid chromatography (UPLC) HSS T3 column (2.1 × 100 mm, 1.8 μm) with the mobile phase consisting of 0.1% formic acid aqueous solution (A) and acetonitrile (B) using a gradient elution at the flow rate of 0.30 mL/min in 30 min at 30°C, which was also validated by UPLC-diode array detection (DAD) and UPLC-electrospray ionization multistage/mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS) for assuring the feasibility and accuracy. Tested by robustness experiment under slightly changeable conditions, the stability of relative correction factor (RCF) proved to be stable, with RSDs below 5.69%, except for notoginsenoside R1 with relative standard deviation (RSD) 7.83%. This reliable and convenient QAMS method resolved the problem of standard substance insufficiency and improved the quality assessment of preparations consisting of complex compounds with different chemical structures, such as CDPs.

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