Comparative quality of the forms of decoction pieces evaluated by multidimensional chemical analysis and chemometrics: Poria cocos, a pilot study

Li Xia Zhu, Jun Xu, Yun Wu, Li Fei Su, Kelly Yin Ching Lam, Elizabeth R. Qi, Xiao Ping Dong, Hubiao Chen, Yu De Liu*, Zhongzhen Zhao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Many Chinese medicinal materials (CMMs) are parts of plants or fungi that have been processed into different physical forms, termed decoction pieces, that are typically boiled in water for consumption. One CMM may have several decoction pieces forms, e.g., slices, small cubes (dice), or grains. The specifications that have different morphological parameters (shape, size and thickness) for these various decoction pieces have been developed over, in some cases, centuries of practice. Nevertheless, whether and how the form of decoction pieces affects the extraction (decoction) dynamics, and quality stability during storage has not been studied. Here, we investigated Poria cocos (PC) as a pilot study; we explore how the form of PC decoction pieces affects its chemistry using multidimensional chemical evaluation such as ultra-performance liquid chromatography-photodiode array-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC-PDA-QTOF-MS/MS), ultra-performance liquid chromatography-triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (UHPLC-QqQ-MS/MS) and high performance gel permeation chromatography coupled with charged aerosol detector (HPGPC-CAD), combined with analysis of variance (ANOVA), principal component analysis (PCA), factor analysis (FA) and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA). The results indicated that different specifications had significant differences, and these specifications could be divided into four groups. The comprehensive results of the chemical analyses undertaken here indicate that the highest potentially available quality of PC decoction pieces was in the forms of curl, ultra-small grains and small grains, followed by thin slices. This information not only is conducive to promoting the standardization of the specification/form of PC decoction pieces and maximizing the benefits from its utilization, but also provide a promising strategy for assessing other CMM decoction pieces in different forms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-777
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Food and Drug Analysis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Food Science
  • Pharmacology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chemometric analyses
  • Forms
  • Multidimensional chemical evaluation
  • Poria cocos decoction pieces


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