Development and validation of a UFLC–MS/MS method for simultaneous quantification of sixty-six saponins and their six aglycones: Application to comparative analysis of red ginseng and white ginseng

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Graphical AbstractHighlightsA new UFLC–MS/MS method was established to quantify 72 triter within 35 min.Ten pairs of 20(S) and 20(R) epimers were simultaneously analyzed for the first time.Rg5, Rh4, Rk1, Rs4, F4 and 20(S)-Rg3 are major characteristic markers of red ginseng.The validated method could be applied to determine products containing ginseng.A new and sensitive ultra fast liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometry (UFLC–MS/MS) method was developed to evaluate the quality of Red ginseng (RG) and to find out its chemical markers by comparing with multi-batches of RG and white ginseng (WG). This innovative method could quantify sixty-six saponins and their six aglycones including 10 pairs of 20(S) and 20(R) epimers within 35 min simultaneously. All compounds could be determined in individual multiple-reaction monitoring channel without interference, and the optimized method was rapid, accurate, precise, reproducible and efficient. Using the orthogonal partial least squared discriminant analysis, ginsenosides Rg5, Rh4, Rk1, Rs4, F4, and 20(S)-Rg3 were found to be the characteristic components of RG, the six compounds should be suggested as quality control markers to distinguish RG from WG. These findings will be significant for standardizing the processing procedures of RG and ensuring the consistent quality, as well as consequently the efficacy of RG in clinical applications. Results will be helpful in providing crucial chemical profiles of RG.

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