Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry

, Volume 29, Issue 9, pp 1919–1935 | Cite as

Screening and Identification of the Metabolites of Water Extracts of Raw and Honey-Processed Astragalus in Rat Urine Based on UHPLC/ESI-Q-TOF-MS and Multivariate Statistical Analysis

  • Jing Huang
  • Hongyuan Chen
  • Chanyi Li
  • Wuping Liu
  • Wenjie Ma
  • Wen RuiEmail author
Research Article


Radix Astragali is a famous traditional Chinese medicine and honey-processed Astragalus is a product of Radix Astragali acquired by honey-processing. These two products are widely utilized to treat various diseases. In this study, we screened bioactive components and metabolites of raw and honey-processed Astragalus in rat urine by ultra-performance liquid chromatography equipped with electrospray ionization/quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC/ESI-Q-TOF-MS) combined with multivariate statistical analysis. In total, 62 compounds, including 7 parent compounds and 55 metabolites, were detected and 11 metabolites were characterized for the first time. The identified metabolites indicated that the metabolic reactions of Astragalus in rats included hydroxylation, glucuronidation, deglucosidation, monomethylation, demethylation, sulfation, hydrogenation, and dehydroxylation. The metabolic pathways of raw and honey-processed Astragalus in rat urine also were clarified. Through multivariate statistical analysis of the data of the raw and honey-processed Astragalus groups, we found that 20 compounds were differential components and that 1 metabolite only existed in the honey-processed Astragalus group. The differences in these ingredients between these two groups might provide the basis for interpreting the biologic activity differences in traditional Chinese medicine treatments.

Graphical Abstract


Radix Astragali Honey-processed UHPLC/ESI-Q-TOF-MS Multivariate statistical analysis Metabolite 



Ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry


Principal component analysis


Orthogonal partial least squares-discriminant analysis


Partial least squares-discriminant analysis


Extracted ion chromatograms


Mass-to-charge ratio


Base peak ion chromatograms


Tandem mass spectrometry


Funding Information

This work was funded by the National Science Foundation of China (Nos.81202917 and 81573607) and the Key Program of the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (No.2017A030311031).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jing Huang
    • 1
  • Hongyuan Chen
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Chanyi Li
    • 1
  • Wuping Liu
    • 1
  • Wenjie Ma
    • 1
  • Wen Rui
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Central LaboratoryGuangdong Pharmaceutical UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Immunology & Pathogen Biology, School of Basic CourseGuangdong Pharmaceutical UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Digital Quality Evaluation of Chinese Materia Medica of State Administration of TCMGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Guangdong Engineering & Technology Research Center of Topical Precise Drug Delivery SystemGuangdong Pharmaceutical UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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