Recent advances on HPLC/MS in medicinal plant analysis—An update covering 2011–2016

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Abstract

The separation, identification and quantification of constituents in complex plant extracts always has been, and most likely will be, a challenging task. Nevertheless, today a multiplicity of different separation techniques, specific stationary phases and detectors are available, helping to achieve the desired selectivity, sensitivity and speed for nearly any separation problem. The most prominent and popular technique in this area of research is definitely the combination of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. More than 40 years after its beginning LC–MS can be considered a well-established routine technique, however there is a steady advancement in terms of instrumentation (ultra-high-performance LC, ion mobility MS, etc.), the hyphenation of different techniques (supercritical fluid chromatography − mass spectrometry, two-dimensional techniques, etc.), or the type of analyzed compounds (novel applications). The here presented review aims to consider all of these aspects, focusing on natural products/medicinal plants related LC–MS papers published within the years 2011–2016. It gives a short overview of recent technical trends as well summarizes the most relevant applications ordered by the type of natural products assessed (e.g. acids, alkaloids, flavonoids, terpenes). The respective reports are also differentiated according to the studies purpose (analysis of plant material or pharmacological investigation) and a special chapter is devoted to Traditional Chinese Medicine. For selected reports relevant methodological details are provided and limitations or advantages discussed, so that the current status of LC–MS for natural products analysis is reflected comprehensively.

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