The simultaneous determination of berberine, palmatine, coptisine, epiberberine and jatrorrhizine in rat plasma by LC-MS/MS and a pharmacokinetic comparison after the oral administration of Rhizoma coptidis and Jiao-Tai-Wan extract
A rapid and sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method was developed to simultaneously determine berberine, palmatine, coptisine, epiberberine and jatrorrhizine in rat plasma, using tetrahydropalmatine as an internal standard. The separation of the five compounds was carried out on a C18 column using a mobile phase consisting of acetonitrile and water (containing 5 mmol ammonium acetate adjusted to pH 5.0 with formic acid). The detection was performed in the multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode via the electrospray ionization (ESI) source operating in the positive ionization mode. Linear calibration curves were obtained over the concentration range of 0.20–200.0 ng ml−1 for berberine, and 0.20–100.0 ng ml−1 for palmatine, coptisine, epiberberine and jatrorrhizine. The accuracy, precision and extraction recovery of the five analytes were all satisfactory. The validated method was successfully applied to study the pharmacokinetic differences of the five protoberberine-type alkaloids after the oral administration of Rhizoma coptidis (RC) and Jiao-Tai-Wan (JTW) extract. It was found that the Tmax values of the five ingredients in the JTW extract were significantly increased (P < 0.05) when compared with those in RC. In addition, the AUC0–t of palmatine, coptisine and epiberberine were significantly increased (P < 0.05).