Accurate recognition and feature qualify for flavonoid extracts fromLiang-wai Gan Caoby liquid chromatography-high resolution-mass spectrometry and computational MS/MS fragmentation

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In this study, Liquid Chromatography (LC) separation combined with quadrupole-Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (qTOF-MS) detection was used to analyze the characteristic ions of the flavonoids from Liang-wai Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae uralensis). First, accurate mass measurement and isotope curve optimization could provide reliable molecular prediction after noise deduction, baseline calibration and “ghost peak recognition”. Thus, some spectral features in the LC–MS data could be clearly explained. Secondly, the chemical structure of flavonoids was deduced by MS/MS fragment ions, and the in-silico spectra by MS-FINDER program provided strong support for overcoming the bottleneck of phytochemical identification. For a predicted formula and experimental MS/MS spectrum, the MS-FINDER program could sort the candidate compounds in the public database based on a comprehensive weighted score, and we took the first 20 reliable compounds to seek the target compound in an in-house database. Certainly, those fragmentation pathways could also be deduced and described as Retro-Diels-Alder (RDA) fragmentation reaction, losses of C4H8, C5H8, CH3, CO, CO2 and others. Accordingly, 63 flavonoids were identified, and their in-silico bioactivity were clearly disclosed by some bioinformatics tools. In this experiment, the flavonoids obtained by the four extraction processes were tested by LC-qTOF-MS. We looked for possible Q-markers from these data matrices and then quantified them; their similarities/differences were also described. The results also indicated that the Macroporous Adsorption Resins (MARs) purification is a low cost, environmentally friendly and effective approach.

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