The profiling and identification of the absorbed constituents and metabolites of Paeoniae Radix Rubra decoction in rat plasma and urine by the HPLC–DAD–ESI-IT-TOF-MSntechnique: A novel strategy for the systematic screening and identification of absorbed constituents and metabolites from traditional Chinese medicines

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Abstract

Paeoniae Radix Rubra (PRR, the dried roots of Paeonia lactiflora) is a commonly used traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). A clear understanding of the absorption and metabolism of TCMs is very important in their rational clinical use and pharmacological research. To find more of the absorbed constituents and metabolites of TCMs, a novel strategy was proposed. This strategy was characterized by the following: the establishment and utilization of the databases of parent compounds, known metabolites and characteristic neutral losses; the comparison of base peak chromatograms and ClogPs; and the use of the HPLC–DAD–ESI-IT-TOF-MSn technique. This strategy was first applied to screen and identify the absorbed constituents and metabolites of PRR decoction and paeoniflorin in rats. In total, 13 new absorbed constituents and 90 new metabolites of PRR decoction were detected. Among these metabolites, the structures of 70 metabolites were identified, and the conjugation types and structure skeletons of the other 20 metabolites were preliminarily determined. Moreover, 35 new metabolites of some constituents of PRR, i.e., 22 new metabolites of paeoniflorin, 10 new metabolites of gallic acid-related compounds, 1 new metabolite of (epi)catechin-related compounds, and 2 new metabolites of other compounds, were reported for the first time. The results also indicated that (epi)catechin-related compounds, gallic acid-related compounds and paeoniflorin were the main precursors of these metabolites. Phase I reactions (dehydroxylation, decarboxylation, dehydrogenation) and phase II reactions (sulfation, glucuronidation and methylation) were observed as the main metabolic pathways of PRR. According to the literature, the 11 absorbed constituents and 11 metabolites have various bioactivities. This study is the first to explore the absorption and metabolism of PRR decoction, and the result also is a notable improvement in the discovery of paeoniflorin metabolites in vivo. These findings enhance our understanding of the metabolism and Effective forms (the truly active structures) of PRR decoction and paeoniflorin.

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