Simultaneous determination of naphthoquinone derivatives in Boraginaceous herbs by high-performance liquid chromatography

Yani Hu, Zhi Hong JIANG, Kelvin S Y LEUNG, Zhongzhen ZHAO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


A high-performance liquid chromatographic method using diode-array detection (HPLC-DAD) has been developed for the simultaneous quantification of eight naphthoquinone derivatives namely shikonin, acetylshikonin, deoxyshikonin, β-acetoxyisovalerylshikonin, isobutylshikonin, β,β-dimethylacrylshikonin, 2-methyl-n-butyrylshikonin and isovalerylshikonin in nine species of the Boraginaceae family. These species, coming from different areas of China, are all used as interchangeable sourcing plants for the Chinese Materia Medica known as "Zicao", and are Arnebia euchroma (Royle) Johnston., A. guttata Bunge, Lithospermum erythrorhizon Sieb. et Zucc., Onosma paniculatum Bur. et Franch., O. exsertum Hemsl., O. confertum W.W. Smith, O. hookerii Clarke var. longiflorum Duthie, O. hookerii Clarke and O. waltonii Duthic. Quantification of the eight naphthoquinones in all the Zicao samples are reported and compared with each other. Furthermore, two positional isomers, 2-methyl-n-butyrylshikonin and isovalerylshikonin, were successfully separated and quantified for the first time in the present study. The results showed that, besides the three officially used species (namely, A. euchroma, A. guttata and L. erythrorhizon) that were listed in Chinese pharmacopoeia as interchangeable sourcing plants for Zicao, other six species of Onosma used by native peoples in Tibet and Yunnan Province also contain various types and considerable amounts of naphthoquinones and that O. waltonii contains the most. Therefore, these species of Onosma could be developed as new sources of naphthoquinones. The entire analytical procedure is reproducible and suitable for the quantification of naphthoquinones in all related Boraginaceous plants for quality assessment purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-31
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2006

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy

User-Defined Keywords

  • Arnebia spp.
  • Boraginaceae
  • Lithospermum spp.
  • Naphthoquinone
  • Onosma spp.
  • Zicao


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