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  Theme-based Research Scheme–Call for Proposal

  Theme-based Research Scheme–Call for Preliminary Proposals

  Launch of New Joint Research Schemes

  Nanotherapeutics in Angiogenesis: Synthesis and in Vivo Assessment of Drug Efficacy and Biocompatibility in the Zebrafish Embryos

  Nimodipine suppresses chemokine release via inhibition of adenosine uptake in endothelial cells

  DNA-binding Activities of Some Alkaloids from Chinese Medicinal Herbs

  Development of a High Performance Liquid Chromatographic Method for the Quality Control of Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae and its Derived Products

  Interactions between UGT isoenzymes and MRP transporters during the oral absorption process of Baicalein

  Gender Differences in the Regulation of Endothelium-Dependent Contracting Factor

  Areas of Excellence Scheme Project: Introducing the Work of the Hong Kong Institute of Economics and Business Strategy

  Areas of Excellence of Scheme Project: Building excellence in plant and agricultural biotechnology research

  RGC Collaborative Research Fund – Layman Summaries of Projects Funded in 2009/10 Exercise


Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae (RSG), belonged to Liliaceae family, smilax genera, is a commonly used traditional Chinese medicine for detoxication and diuresis. It is the principal medicine used for the treatment of syphilis in ancient China. Besides, it is also used for skin problems, such as psoriasis and chronic eczema. The extract of this herb is also the main ingredient in turtle jelly, which is a functional food consumed popularly in Hong Kong and in Southern China. However, there are many confusable species of RSG existed in the market. These include Rhizoma Smilacis Chinae, Rhizoma Heterosmilacis etc. In some regions of China, these herbs have been given the same Chinese name and are confusedly used. However, using a counterfeit or poor quality herb will decrease the clinical effects and may even result in life-threatening poisoning. Hence, it is necessary to establish a reliable method for distinguishing these confusing species from RSG.

Fig.1: Standard fingerprint of RSG generated by means of simulation of all tested sample. The upper right hand side is a picture of RSG
A photo of Dr HY Cheung’s Research Team

In our study, a high performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) chromatogram has been developed. This chromatogram could be used as the fingerprint and quantitative means for the quality control of RSG. It was found that nine peaks were identified in the chromatogram of RSG using an online diode array detector (DAD) and an electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometer (ESIMS/MS). These nine components were 3-O-caffeoylshikimic acid, taxifolin, engeletin, isoengeletin, resveratrol, astilbin and its three isomers. With the help of this chromatogram, the content of these nineconstitutes were quantitatively determined. Among them, 6 constitutes were consistently found in 18 batches samples and a standard fingerprint of RSG was generated by means of simulating the 18 tested samples (Fig.1). Using this standard fingerprint, RSG can be easily distinguished from other confusing species, such as Rhizoma Smilacis Chinae and Rhizoma Heterosmilacis. Hence, the fingerprint and assay method developed should have significant impact on the quality control of RSG and its derived products. It will also be useful for the pharmacokinetic study of the herb.

Dr Hon-yeung CHEUNG
Department of Biology & Chemistry
City University of Hong Kong bhhonyun@cityu.edu.hk