UHPLC-Q-TOF-MS/MS-oriented characteristic components dataset and multivariate statistical techniques for the holistic quality control of Usnea†
The holistic quality evaluation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is confronted with significant challenges due to its extreme chemical complexity. In this study, a sensitive strategy based on ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-triple/time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC-Q-TOF-MS/MS) and chemometric analysis was established and validated for the qualitative and semi-quantitative analyses of characteristic components in Usnea. First, three mass spectrometry fragmentation patterns of phenolic acid standards were studied and summarized. Then, an extract of this herb was analyzed by the full-scan MS spectra and identified by extracted ion chromatography (XIC). Based on the abovementioned methods, a total of 38 compounds (8 dibenzofurans, 11 didepsides, 13 depsidones, and 6 mono-substituted phenyl rings) were identified. Subsequently, the qualities of Usnea samples from different regions were evaluated by the semi-quantitative analysis based on their relative peak areas. Furthermore, principal component analysis (PCA) was performed to compare the Usnea herbs and to find possible diagnostic chemical components. This novel and powerful strategy could provide a potential approach for the holistic quality control of TCM.