Aristolochic acids (AAs) are a mixture of structural-related compounds, in which aristolochic acid I (AA I) and aristolochic acid II (AA II) are reported to be correlated with Aristolochic acid nephropathy (AAN). In this work, a rapid and sensitive ultra-high-pressure liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS) method was developed to determine AA I and AA II in herbal products and biological fluids. By using gradient elution with a mobile phase composed of a mixture of 10 mM ammonium formate buffer (pH 3.0) and acetonitrile, AAs could be determined within 10 min. Under optimum UHPLC-MS/MS conditions, the limit of detections was 0.14 and 0.26 ng mL-1 for AA I and AA II, respectively. Run-to-run repeatability and intermediate precision of peak area for AA I and AA II were less than 5.74% relative standard deviation (RSD). Accuracy was tested by spiking 10, 100 and 1000 ng mL-1 in rat serum and the recoveries were within 76.5-92.9%. Matrix effects were within 78.8-127.7%. The developed method was successfully applied to determine AA I and AA II in several herbal products and to investigate their pharmacokinetic behavior in female Wister rats. The result shows that the developed UHPLC-MS/MS method is efficient, sensitive, and accurate for the determination of AA I and AA II in herbal products and biological samples.
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