Document Type

Journal Article

Department/Unit

School of Chinese Medicine

Title

Distribution of toxic alkaloids in tissues from three herbal medicine Aconitum species using laser micro-dissection, UHPLC–QTOF MS and LC–MS/MS techniques

Language

English

Abstract

Aconite poisoning continues to be a major type of poisoning caused by herbal drugs in many countries. Nevertheless, despite its toxic characteristics, aconite is used because of its valuable therapeutic benefits. The aim of the present study was to determine the distribution of toxic alkaloids in tissues of aconite roots through chemical profiling. Three species were studied, all being used in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda), namely: Aconitum carmichaelii, Aconitum kusnezoffii and Aconitum heterophyllum. Laser micro-dissection was used for isolation of target microscopic tissues, such as the metaderm, cortex, xylem, pith, and phloem, with ultra-high performance liquid chromatography equipped with quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC–QTOF MS) employed for detection of metabolites. Using a multi-targeted approach through auto and targeted LC–MS/MS, 48 known compounds were identified and the presence of aconitine, mesaconitine and hypaconitine that are the biomarkers of this plant was confirmed in the tissues. These results suggest that the three selected toxic alkaloids were exclusively found in A. carmichaelii and A. kusnezoffii. The most toxic components were found in large A. carmichaelii roots with more lateral root projections, and specifically in the metaderm, cork and vascular bundle tissues. The results from metabolite profiling were correlated with morphological features to predict the tissue specific distribution of toxic components and toxicity differences among the selected species. By careful exclusion of tissues having toxic diester diterpenoid alkaloids, the beneficial effects of aconite can still be retained and the frequency of toxicity occurrences can be greatly reduced. Knowledge of tissue-specific metabolite distribution can guide users and herbal drug manufacturers in prudent selection of relatively safer and therapeutically more effective parts of the root. The information provided from this study can contribute towards improved and effective management of therapeutically important, nonetheless, toxic drug such as Aconite.

Keywords

Aconitum heterophyllum Wall, A. carmichaelii Debx., A. kusnezoffii Reichb., Ranunculaceae, Toxicity, Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurveda, UHPLC–QTOF MS, Laser micro-dissection, LC–MS/MS, Chemical profiling, Alkaloids

Publication Date

2014

Source Publication Title

Phytochemistry

Volume

107

Start Page

155

End Page

174

Publisher

Elsevier

DOI

10.1016/j.phytochem.2014.07.026

ISSN (print)

00319422

ISSN (electronic)

18733700

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