He, R., et al. High Resolution Mass Profile of Bufadienolides and Peptides Combing with Anti-Tumor Cell Screening and Multivariate Analysis for the Quality Evaluation of Bufonis Venenum, Molecules. Volume 24, Number 10, 1943
In order to evaluate the quality of Bufonis Venenum commercial herbs, a three-step qualitative and quantitative research study was performed. Firstly, we tried to identify small molecules and peptides in Bufonis Venenum using pre-fractionation chromatography and high-resolution mass spectrometry. The database search of the small molecules and peptides of Bufonis Venenum revealed that the dried venom consisted of free/conjugated-type bufadienolides and peptides with a mass range of 0.4–2 kDa. Secondly, we used partial least squares (PLS) multivariate statistical analysis to screen bufadienolides markers (VIP > 1.5) responsible for the anti-tumor cell activity of Bufonis Venenum, including 21 identified bufadienolides and 7 unknown compounds. It is noticeable that these bufadienolide markers could not be recognized by traditional HPLC-UV based spectrum-effect relationship analysis (correlation coefficient ranging from −0.24 to 0.40). Finally, we proposed a weight coefficient-based corrected total contents of 9 bufadienolides as a quality evaluation indicator, which had good correlation with inhibitory effects on tumor cells of commercial Bufonis Venenum. The correlation coefficient increased from 0.4 to 0.6. Thus, our pre-fractionation chromatography and mass spectrometry strategy had significant advancement over the traditional spectrum–effect relationship method for chemical marker identification. These results could be crucial and helpful in the development of a quality evaluation method that could reflect the pharmacological activity of Bufonis Venenum.