Application of UPLC-QTOF-MS in MS(E) mode for the rapid and precise identification of alkaloids in goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2014 Feb;406(6):1739-49. doi: 10.1007/s00216-013-7558-x. Epub 2014 Jan 4.


Here, we describe a new application of ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with an electrospray ionization quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry operating in MS(E) mode (UPLC-QTOF-MS(E)) for the sensitive, fast, and effective characterization of alkaloids in goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). This approach allowed identification of alkaloids using a cyclic low and high collision energy spectral acquisition mode providing simultaneous accurate precursor and fragment ion mass information. A total of 45 compounds were separated and 40 of them characterized including one new compound and 7 identified for the first time in goldenseal. The spectral data obtained using this method is comparable to those obtained by conventional LC-MS(n). However, the UPLC-QTOF-MS(E) method offers high chromatographic resolution with structural characterization facilitated by accurate mass measurement in both MS and MS/MS modes in a single analytical run; this makes it suitable for the rapid analysis and screening of alkaloids in plant extracts.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / analysis*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / economics
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Hydrastis / chemistry*
  • Mass Spectrometry / economics
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Time Factors


  • Alkaloids
  • Plant Extracts