Comparing chemical fingerprints of herbal medicines using modified window target-testing factor analysis
A "chromatographic fingerprint" of a herbal medicine is essentially its chromatographic spectrum: a characteristic representation of its chemical components, some of which are pharmacologically active. Since a wide variety of factors, such as the geographical location, the harvest season, and the part used can influence the chemical constituents (and therefore the pharmacological activity) of any particular herbal medicine and its products, these fingerprints provide a way to compare and contrast the compositions of different variants of the same herbal medicine. In particular, it is possible to ascertain whether particular components present in one herbal fingerprint are also present in another fingerprint. In this work we use a novel method-modified window target-testing factor analysis (MWTTFA), based on the use of target factor analysis (TFA), fixed-size moving window evolving factor analysis (FSMWEFA) and a Gaussian shape correction to the chromatographic profiles-to achieve this end. To demostrate the strategy, the fingerprints of samples from garlics produced in different geographical locations were compared, as well as the fingerprints of samples taken from above-ground and below-ground parts of Houttuynia cordata Thunb. The results from these comparisons clearly show that four chemical components present in Hunan common edible garlic are absent in Xingping base garlic, while seven components are present in Xingping base garlic but absent in Hunan common edible garlic. Also, eleven components are present in the sample from the above-ground part of Houttuynia cordata Thunb but not in the sample from the below-ground part, while seven components are present in the sample from the below-ground part of Houttuynia cordata Thunb that are not present in the sample from the above-ground part. These interesting conclusions should be very useful for future pharmacological and clinical research into these herbal medicines, and the novel MWTTFA technique can also be used for quality control purposes.
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