In vivo metabolic profiles of Bu-Zhong-Yi-Qi-Tang, a famous traditional Chinese medicine prescription, in rats by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry.
College of Pharmacy, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, PR China; Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Pharmacodynamic Constituents of TCM and New Drugs Research, College of Pharmacy, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, PR China. Electronic address: [Email]
Bu-Zhong-Yi-Qi-Tang (BZYQT), a famous traditional Chinese medicine prescription (TCMP), has been extensively used for conditioning sub-health status and diseases caused by spleen-qi deficiency in China for over 700 years. BZYQT is prevalent not only in China, but also in Japan and South Korea for the clinical treatment of chronic diseases, such as fatigue, tuberculosis and loss of appetite after surgery. However, due to a lack of research on the holistic metabolism of BZYQT, the in vivo bioactive components of BZYQT remain unclear, hindering further study of its in vivo mechanism of action and quality control. In the present study, a four-step integrated strategy based on ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-Q-TOF/MS) was established to systematically screen the in vivo xenobiotics of BZYQT. Ultimately, a total of 162 xenobiotics (59 prototypes and 103 metabolites) were identified or tentatively characterized, including 48 in plasma, 147 in urine and 58 in feces, while the in vivo metabolic profile of atractylenolide III (a major component of BZYQT) was elucidated for the first time. The xenobiotics of BZYQT mainly included flavonoids from Astragali Radix, Glycyrrhizae Radix et Rhizoma and Citrus reticulatae Pericarpium; lactones from Angelicae Sinensis Radix and Atractylodis Macrocephalae Rhizoma; and triterpenoid saponins from Cimicifugae Rhizoma. After oral administration, BZYQT-related components underwent diverse metabolic pathways. Among them, flavonoids mainly underwent glucuronidation, sulfation and demethylation, while lactones mainly underwent hydroxylation and acetylcysteine conjugation, and deglycosylation was the major metabolic reaction of saponins. Our investigation gives a comprehensive analysis of the metabolic characteristics of BZYQT and will provide an important basis for further studying the pharmacokinetics of BZYQT to explore its in vivo disposal features and discover its in vivo bioactive components.