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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Characterization and determination of six flavonoids in the ethnomedicine “Dragon’s Blood” by UPLC-PAD-MS

Tao Yi, Yina Tang, Jianye Zhang, Zhongzhen Zhao, Zhijun Yang and Hubiao Chen*

Author Affiliations

School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, P. R. China

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Chemistry Central Journal 2012, 6:116  doi:10.1186/1752-153X-6-116

Published: 10 October 2012



“Dragon’s Blood” (DB) has long been used as an ethnomedicine in China to invigorate blood circulation for the treatment of traumatic injuries, blood stasis and pain. To comprehensively assess the quality of DB medicine, a precise and accurate method that can rapidly separate, characterize and quantify multiple active components of DB is crucial.


An ultra performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) coupled with photodiode array detection (PAD) and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) method was developed for characterization and determination of six flavonoids in DB. A comprehensive validation of the developed method was conducted, and confirmed that the method presented good sensitivity, precision and accuracy. All linear regressions were acquired with R2 > 0.99, and the limits of detection ranged from 0.06 to 0.83 ng. The relative standard deviation (RSD) values were found to be within the range 1.4–3.8% for the method repeatability test. Recovery studies for the quantified compounds were found to be within the range 94.2–102.8% with RSD less than 4.9%. DB samples collected from different geographical regions were analyzed by the present method, and the results demonstrated that the contents of the six flavonoids in DB samples varied significantly. Three major active components among the six flavonoids, namely dracorhodin, (2S)-5-methoxyflavan-7-ol and (2S)-5-methoxy-6-methylflavan-7-ol, are suggested as the index for DB quality evaluation.


Overall, the present hyphenation method is highly efficient and reliable, and hence suitable for the characterization and determination of the flavonoids of DB ethnomedicine.

Dragon's Blood; Daemonorops draco; UPLC-PAD-MS; Characterization; Quality evaluation