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Discrimination of the species and authenticity of Rhizoma Coptidis based on stable isotope and multielement fingerprinting and multivariate statistical analysis


It is essential to be able to identify the source species and to determine the authenticity of traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) in order to prevent the use of false or inferior medicines. In this work, a stable and reliable method of discriminating among the three source species of Rhizoma Coptidis and checking the authenticity of Rhizoma Coptidis samples was established. The technique involved evaluating stable isotope ratios and the contents of multiple elements in samples along with the use of multivariate statistical techniques. The stable isotope ratios δ13C, δ15N, δ2H, and δ18O and the concentrations of various inorganic elements (Li, B, Na, Mg, Al, P, Si, K, Ca, Ti, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, Sr, and Ba) in authentic Rhizoma Coptidis samples from three source species (n = 56) and in counterfeit Rhizoma Coptidis samples (n = 39) were determined. The results showed that there were significant differences between the samples from different source species according to multivariate statistical analysis. The three species were clearly distinguished using hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA). Employing stepwise linear discriminant analysis (SLDA), a classification model for differentiating the three species was developed, and this model achieved 100% classification accuracy when applied to samples. In addition, authentic samples and counterfeit samples were successfully discriminated using stable isotope and multielement fingerprint analysis and orthogonal projections to latent structures discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA), and OPLS-DA models for checking the authenticity of Rhizoma Coptidis were established and verified. Therefore, stable isotope and multielement analysis combined with multivariate statistical analysis was shown to be a promising method of discriminating among the three source species of Rhizoma Coptidis and of establishing the authenticity of Rhizoma Coptidis samples.

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This research was supported by the Science and Technology Project of General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China (no. 2017IK277) and the Research and Application Demonstration of Information Technology for Social Co-governance of Food Safety (no. 2017YFC1602001).

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Correspondence to Zhiqiong Chen.

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Du, H., Tang, B., Cao, S. et al. Discrimination of the species and authenticity of Rhizoma Coptidis based on stable isotope and multielement fingerprinting and multivariate statistical analysis. Anal Bioanal Chem 411, 2827–2837 (2019).

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  • Rhizoma Coptidis
  • Species and authenticity
  • Stable isotope analysis
  • Multielement analysis
  • Multivariate statistical analysis