UHPLC UHD Q-TOF MS/MS analysis of the impact of sulfur fumigation on the chemical profile of Codonopsis Radix (Dangshen)
Over recent decades sulfur fumigation has been becoming abused in processing some freshly harvested Chinese medicinal herbs, although it is questioned whether sulfur fumigation can result in changes in efficacy and safety of the herbs. One of the herbs commonly processed by sulfur fumigation is Codonopsis Radix (Dangshen). A report showed that lobetyolin content in sulfur-fumigated Dangshen was lower than in air-dried Dangshen. Whereas there is no investigation designed to compare the chemical profiles of the sulfur-fumigated Dangshen and the air-dried Dangshen. In the present study, a rapid and versatile ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with ultra-high resolution quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC UHD Q-TOF MS/MS) method was developed for comprehensive analysis of the chemical profiles of sulfur-fumigated and air-dried Dangshen samples. Principal component analysis (PCA) and partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) demonstrated that there were significant chemical differences between sulfur-fumigated and air-dried Dangshen samples. Among the changed components, 57 compounds were identified, in which 15 sulfur-containing compounds were detected only in sulfur-fumigated samples. The established methods were successfully applied to discriminate sulfur-fumigated Dangshen among commercial samples. Whether the chemical changes caused by sulfur fumigation affect the clinical efficacy and safety of Dangshen needs to be further investigated.