Rapid detection of adulterated drugs in herbal dietary supplements by wooden-tip electrospray ionization mass spectrometry

Bin Hu, Yingyan Huang, Guo Yin, Gaofei Zhang, Liyang Zhang, Tiejie Wang, Zhongping Yao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Adulteration of herbal dietary supplements with unlabelled drugs is illegal and can lead to serious health problems in consumers. In this study, wooden-tip electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (WT-ESI-MS) was developed for rapid detection of adulterated drugs in three categories of herbal dietary supplements, namely tranquilizer, aphrodisiac and weight-loss products. Samples were directly taken by using pre-wetted wooden tips and analyzed by WT-ESI-MS, with the drug identities confirmed by MS/MS spectra. Furthermore, a high-throughput WT-ESI-MS method was developed to allow automated WT-ESI-MS and MS/MS analysis of herbal dietary supplement samples with an analysis speed of ∼15 seconds per sample. The limits of detection of typical drugs were found to be at the ng g-1level using the WT-ESI-MS method. In this study, 33 commonly adulterated drugs were investigated and a spectral database containing the ESI-MS and ESI-MS/MS spectra of these drug standards was established. A total of 144 herbal dietary supplements were analyzed and the results were compared with those obtained by using high performance liquid chromatography. These results demonstrated a simple and comprehensive approach for rapid detection of adulterated drugs in herbal dietary supplements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6840-6846
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical Methods
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Engineering(all)

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