Comparative analysis of Danggui and European Danggui using nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolic fingerprinting

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Danggui is a widely used herbal drug in traditional Chinese medicine, and adulteration with European Danggui is frequently encountered in the market. We compared the chemical compositions and biological effects of Danggui and European Danggui using proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy coupled with multivariate analysis. Results showed that Danggui and European Danggui differed in both primary and secondary metabolites. Danggui contained higher levels of alanine, γ-aminobutyrate, adenosine, arginine, sucrose, α-glucose, β-glucose, tryptophan, and cis-Z,Z′-3a.7a′,7a.3a′-dihydroxyligustilide than European Danggui. Meanwhile, European Danggui contained higher contents of valine, proline, fumaric acid, phenylalanine, nicotinamide derivative, Z-butylidenephthalide, coniferyl ferulate, ferulic acid, Z-ligustilide, and Z,Z-6,6′7,3a-diligustilide than Danggui. A blood deficiency model was used to compare the biological effects of the two drugs. Despite its higher levels of Z-ligustilide and ferulic acid, European Danggui showed a weaker blood enriching effect than Danggui. Thus, the bioactive compounds responsible for the blood enriching effect in Danggui and their possible synergistic effects should be further studied.

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