An enhanced targeted identification strategy for the selective identification of flavonoid O-glycosides from Carthamus tinctorius by integrating offline two-dimensional liquid chromatography/linear ion-trap-Orbitrap mass spectrometry, high-resolution diagnostic product ions/neutral loss filtering and liquid chromatography-solid phase extraction-nuclear magnetic resonance.J Chromatogr A 2017; 1491:87-97JC
Targeted identification of potentially bioactive molecules from herbal medicines is often stymied by the insufficient chromatographic separation, ubiquitous matrix interference, and pervasive isomerism. An enhanced targeted identification strategy is presented and validated by the selective identification of flavonoid O-glycosides (FOGs) from Carthamus tinctorius. It consists of four steps: (i) enhanced separation and detection by offline two-dimensional liquid chromatography/LTQ-Orbitrap MS (offline 2D-LC/LTQ-Orbitrap MS) using collision-induced dissociation (CID) and high-energy C-trap dissociation (HCD); (ii) improved identification of the major aglycones by acid hydrolysis and LC-SPE-NMR; (iii) simplified spectral elucidation by high-resolution diagnostic product ions/neutral loss filtering; and (iv) more convincing structural identification by matching an in-house library. An offline 2D-LC system configuring an Acchrom XAmide column and a BEH Shield RP-18 UPLC® column enabled much better separation of the easily co-eluting components. Combined use of CID and HCD could produce complementary fragmentation information. The intensity ratios of the aglycone ion species ([Y0-H]-/Y0- and [Y0-2H]-/Y0-) in the HCD-MS2 spectra were found diagnostic for discriminating the aglycone subtypes and characterizing the glycosylation patterns. Five aglycone structures (kaempferol, 6-hydroxykaempferol, 6-methoxykaempferol, carthamidin, and isocarthamidin) were identified based on the 1H-NMR data recorded by LC-SPE-NMR. Of the 107 characterized flavonoids, 80 FOGs were first reported from C. tinctorius. Unknown aglycones, pentose, and novel acyl substituents were discovered. A new compound thereof was isolated and fully identified, which could partially validate the MS-oriented identification. This integral strategy can improve the potency, efficiency, and accuracy in the detection of new compounds from medicinal herbs and other natural sources.