Background: Xanthium sibiricum is a well-known traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that
has been commonly used to treat rhinitis and related nasal diseases. The aim of this study was to develop
a comprehensive analytical method based on high-performance liquid chromatographyelectrospray
ionization coupled with triple quadrupole-linear ion trap mass spectrometry (LC-ESIQTRAP-
MS/MS) for the simultaneous determination of phenolic acids, anthraquinones, and flavonoids
in the aerial part and fruit of Xanthium sibiricum.
Methods: The separation was completed on Agilent ZORBAX SB-C18 column (250 × 4.6 mm, 5μm)
using methanol and 0.2% (v/v) aqueous formic acid as the mobile phase. The target components were
analyzed in negative ion mode with accurate and sensitive multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode.
Results: The correlation coefficients of all the calibration curves were higher than 0.9994. Relative
standard deviations of intra- and inter-day precisions of the eighteen components were all lower than
2.87% and the recoveries were in the range from 97.73% to 101.82%. The validated method was successfully
applied to possess forty Xanthium sibiricum samples (Xanthii Herba, Xanthii Fructus, and
processed Xanthii Fructus) collected from different places in P. R. China. Furthermore, principal component
analysis (PCA) was performed to evaluate and classify the samples according to the contents of
the eighteen bioactive components.
Conclusion: All the results demonstrated that the developed method was useful and could be applied
for the overall assessment of the quality of Xanthii Herba and Xanthii Fructus.