The origin identification method for crude drugs derived from arthropods and annelids using molecular biological techniques

  • Hiroaki NakanishiEmail author
  • Katsumi Yoneyama
  • Masaaki Hara
  • Aya Takada
  • Kazuyuki Saito


We evaluated whether the origins of crude drugs derived from arthropods and annelids could be identified using molecular biological techniques. DNA was extracted from 20 crude drugs prepared from different animals using a commercial kit with added phenol treatment. The target regions used to identify origin were the mitochondrial 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA), 12S rRNA, and cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene regions. Extracted DNA was amplified by polymerase chain reaction, and then sequenced by the Sanger method. The aligned sequences were compared with all available sequences using BLAST to estimate the origins of the crude drugs. The origin of crude drugs used in this study could be estimated using this method. The COI region was the best for identifying origin among three regions examined, based on the success rate of PCR amplification and analysis. Moreover, the 12S rRNA region was also useful for origin identification, with the exception of the earthworm. However, the origin of some crude drugs could not be strictly identified due to matches to various species in all three regions. One likely cause was that the species of origin of a crude drug has not been registered in DNA databases. We found that even the same crude drug from the same pharmaceutical company had different origins by production lot or import source country. Therefore, this method is useful not only for DNA-based origin identification but also quality control of production lots.


Crude drugs Origin identification Arthropods Annelids BLAST analysis 



This study was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant no. JP16K08304. We thank the Laboratory of Molecular and Biochemical Research, Research Support Center, Juntendo University Graduate School of Medicine for their technical assistance. We are also grateful to Dr. Yutaka Yamamoto (Tochimoto Tenkaido) for providing some of the crude drugs.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Pharmacognosy 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hiroaki Nakanishi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katsumi Yoneyama
    • 2
  • Masaaki Hara
    • 2
  • Aya Takada
    • 2
  • Kazuyuki Saito
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forensic MedicineJuntendo University School of MedicineTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Forensic MedicineSaitama Medical UniversityMoroyamaJapan

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