A specific and sensitive high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometric (HPLC-MS) method has been developed and validated for simultaneous determination of three anthraquinones of rhein, aloe-emodin and emodin in rat plasma after oral administration of Radix et Rhei Rhizoma extract and Dahuang Fuzi Tang. The analytes were separated on a Kromaisl(®) C(18) column within a total running time of 12min with a mobile phase of methanol:ammonium acetate (3mM) (75:25, v/v). The calibration curves for all the anthraquinones showed good linearity in the measured range with correlation coefficient (r) higher than 0.9978. The precision, accuracy, recovery and stability were deemed acceptable. The method was successfully applied to the comparative pharmacokinetics study of the anthraquinones in rat plasma after oral administration of Radix et Rhei Rhizoma extract and Dahuang Fuzi Tang.
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