Quantitative LC-MS/MS analysis of seven ginsenosides and three aconitum alkaloids in Shen-Fu decoction
For identification of ginsenoside enantiomers, electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) was used to generate silver complexes of the type [ginsenoside + Ag](+). Collision induced dissociation of the silver-ginsenoside complexes produced fragment ions by dehydration, allowing differentiation of ginsenoside enantiomers by the intensity of [M + Ag - H(2)O](+) ion. In the meanwhile, an approach based on the distinct profiles of enantiomer-selective fragment ion intensity varied with collision energy was introduced to refine the identification and quantitation of ginsenoside enantiomers. Five pairs of enantiomeric ginsenosides were distinguished and quantified on the basis of the distribution of fragment ion [M + Ag - H(2)O](+). This method was also extended to the identification of other type of ginsenoside isomers such as ginsenoside Rb2 and Rb3. For demonstrating the practicability of this novel approach, it was utilized to analyze the molar ratio of 20-(S) and 20-(R) type enantiomeric ginsenosides in enantiomer mixture in red ginseng extract. The generation of characteristic fragment ion [M + Ag - H(2)O](+) likely results from the reduction of potential energy barrier of dehydration because of the catalysis of silver ion. The mechanism of enantiomer identification of ginsenosides was discussed from the aspects of computational modeling and internal energy.