Authentication of black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) dietary supplements based on chemometric evaluation of hydroxycinnamic acid esters and hydroxycinnamic acid amides

  • Ping Geng
  • Pei Chen
  • Jianghao Sun
  • Joe-Ann H. McCoy
  • James M. HarnlyEmail author
Research Paper


Ester and amide derivatives of hydroxycinnamic acids are found in black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) and other Actaea plants. These two compound groups were evaluated for authentication of black cohosh dietary supplements. The hydroxycinnamic acid esters (HCAE) were profiled by ultra-performance liquid chromatography-photodiode array detection (UPLC-PDA). The hydroxycinnamic acid amides (HCAA) were acquired simultaneously by mass spectrometry-multiple reaction monitoring (UPLC-MRM) mode. In contrast with the traditional HCAE method using 8 compounds, profiles of HCAA using only 4 feruloyl dopamine-O-hexosides was more convenient for peak by peak comparison. Partial least square discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) was applied to both HCAE and HCAA datasets. Authenticated plant samples of five Actaea species were randomly divided into training and test sets to build and validate the two PLS-DA models. Both models provided reasonable estimates for the classification of A. racemosa and other Actaea plant samples. However, HCAA model performs better in sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy. Assessment of supplement samples provided quite different results for the solid and liquid dietary supplement samples, indicating the dosage form could affect the composition of marker compounds.

Graphical abstract


Hydroxycinnamic acid amide glycoside Hydroxycinnamic acid ester UPLC-MRM Nitrogen-containing PLS-DA 



This research is supported by the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture and an Interagency Agreement with the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health (Grant Y01 OD001298-01).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ping Geng
    • 1
  • Pei Chen
    • 1
  • Jianghao Sun
    • 1
  • Joe-Ann H. McCoy
    • 2
  • James M. Harnly
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Methods and Application of Food Composition Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of AgricultureBeltsvilleUSA
  2. 2.The North Carolina Arboretum Germplasm RepositoryAshevilleUSA

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