In this study, a improved high performance liquid chromatography–diode array detector (HPLC–DAD) method for simultaneous quantification of twelve major components belonging to three chemical types was developed and validated, and was applied to quantitatively compare the quality of Radix Paeoniae Alba (RPA) sulfur-fumigated with different durations and purchased from commercial herbal markets. The contents of paeoniflorin, benzoylpaeoniflorin, oxypaeoniflorin, benzoic acid and paeonol decreased whereas that of paeoniflorin sulfonate increased in RPA with the extending of sulfur-fumigation duration. Different levels of paeoniflorin sulfonate were determined in ten of seventeen commercial RPA samples, indicating that these ten samples may be sulfur-fumigated with different durations. Moreover, the relative standard deviation of the contents of each component was higher in the commercial sulfur-fumigated RPA samples than that in commercial non-fumigated RPA samples, and the percentage of the total average content of monoterpene glycosides in the determined analytes was higher in the decoctions of commercial sulfur-fumigated RPA than that in commercial non-fumigated RPA samples. All these results suggested that the established method was precise, accurate and sensitive enough for the global quality evaluation of sulfur-fumigated RPA, and sulfur-fumigation can not only change the proportions of bioactive components, but also cause the reduction of the quality consistency of both raw materials and aqueous decoctions of RPA.
- Radix Paeoniae Alba
- Sulfur-fumigation duration