Differentiation and authentication of Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, and ginseng products by using HPLC/MS

Author(s): Chan TWD, But PPH, Cheng SW, Kwok IMY, Lau FW, et al.


An LC/MS-based method is established for the differentiation and authentication of specimens and commercial samples of Panax ginseng (Oriental ginseng) and Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng). This method is based on the separation of ginsenosides present in the ginseng methanolic extracts using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), followed by detection with electrospray mass spectrometry. Differentiation of ginsenosides is achieved through simultaneous detection of intact ginsenoside molecular ions and the ions of their characteristic thermal degradation products. An important parameter used for differentiating P. ginseng and P. quinquefolius is the presence of ginsenoside Rf and 24-(R)-pseudoginsenoside F11 in the RICs of Oriental and American ginsengs, respectively. It is important to stress that ginsenoside Rf and 24(R)-pseudoginsenoside F11, which possess the same molecular weight and were found to have similar retention times under most LC conditions, can be unambiguously distinguished in the present HPLC/MS method. The method developed is robust, reliable, reproducible, and highly sensitive down to the nanogram level.

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