Chromatographic fingerprinting technique of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has proved to be a comprehensive strategy for assessing the intact quality of herbal medicine. In general, one could use the chromatographic techniques to obtain a relatively complete picture of herbal medicines, which are in common called chromatographic fingerprints of herbal medicines to represent the so-called phytoequivalence. Based on this, the features of chromatographic fingerprints of herbal medicines have been discussed in some detail. The technique based on chromatographic fingerprinting is essentially a kind of high-throughput and integral tools to explore the complexity of herbal medicines. In order to further control the comprehensive quality of TCMs, some new strategies are proposed to trace the chemical changes of chromatographic fingerprints both in product processing and/or after their administration by modern chromatographic techniques and chemometrics. Combined with metabolomics, it seems possible for one to reveal the working mechanism of TCMs and to further control their intrinsic quality. Finally, the intensive study of chromatographic fingerprinting coupled with multivariate analysis tools developed in bioinformatics and chemometrics are emphasized in order to achieve the aim to reveal the working mechanisms of TCMs and to further control and strengthen TCMs intrinsic quality in a comprehensive manner.
Keywords: Chinese herb medicine, chromatographic fingerprint, metabolomics, quality control, phytoequivalence, Zemaphyte, chromatographic fingerprint analysis, Coptidis Rhizoma, Phellodendron Cortex, Erigeron breviscapus, Szechwan Lovage Rhizome, Cnidium Rhizome, Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae, Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae Viride, Radix Angelica sinensis, Radix Astragali, Terminalia chebula, Reference Extract Substance, Reference Chemical substance, Aquilegia oxysepala, non-esterified fatty acid
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