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Metabolomic differentiation of Rhodiola crenulata from different geographical origins of Sichuan province and Tibet, China

Tao Li, Xuan He and Qiaoqi Luo

Rhodiola crenulata (HK.f. et Thoms.) H.Ohba is a popularly used ethnodrug from the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau of China and a range of biological activities have been attributed to it. The chemical composition of R. crenulata is highly variable and its quality is often controlled on the basis of one or two marker compounds. In order to find out a suitable method for the quality control of this material, the metabolomic comparative analysis of the methanol extract of the twelve geographical origins of R. crenulata was carried out by 1H NMR spectroscopy and multivariate data analysis techniques. Principal component analysis (PCA) and partial least squares (PLS) methods were applied to discriminate the samples of twelve geographical origins. The chemical compositions of the cohort are diverse and mostly mapped and well classified according to geographical origins and the month of collection. A broad range of metabolites were detected by 1H NMR spectroscopy without any chromatographic separation. The principal component analysis and partial least squares methods used to reduce the huge data set obtained from the 1H NMR spectra of the plant extract clearly discriminated various geographical regions of R. crenulata. The major differences in various geographical regions of R. crenulata were found to be due to phenylpropanoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and carbohydrates.The approach provides useful information and gives an overview of the difference between crude drugs of R. crenulata originating from different production environments. This method will be a useful tool for quality evaluation of R. crenulata so as to ensure batch-to-batch uniformity for crude drugs, and lay the foundation for the selection of optimal samples of geographical origins and cultivation locality of R. crenulata with excellent quality and consequently curative effects according to clinic application

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