Lycii Fructus is a traditional medicine used to prevent liver and kidney diseases, which commonly derives from Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum. Here, the extracts and ethyl acetate-soluble fractions of L. chinense fruits exhibited better hepatoprotective effects than those of L. barbarum, which was likely due to differences in their composition. Therefore, GC-MS and HPLC analyses were conducted to characterize the metabolite differences between L. chinense and L. barbarum. Based on amino acid (AA) and phenolic acid (PA) profiling, 24 AAs and 9 PAs were identified in the two species. Moreover, each species exhibited unique and readily distinguishable AA and PA star graphic patterns. HPLC analysis elucidated composition differences between the ethyl acetate-soluble layers of the two compounds. Further, NMR analysis identified their chemical structures as 4-(2-formyl-5-(hydroxymethyl)-1H-pyrrol-1-yl)butanoic acid and p-coumaric acid. The higher content of 4-(2-formyl-5-(hydroxymethyl)-1H-pyrrol-1-yl)butanoic acid was detected in L. chinense, whereas the content of p-coumaric acid was higher in L. barbarum. Therefore, the differences in the relative contents of these two secondary metabolites in the ethyl acetate-soluble layer of Lycii Fructus could be a good marker to discriminate between L. chinense and L. barbarum.
- Lycium barbarum
- Lycium chinense
- gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
- star pattern recognition analysis