Integrated 4D Fingerprint Quality Assessment System for Traditional Chinese Medicine


In a recent study led by scientists from Shenyang Pharmaceutical University in Liaoning, China, scientists developed a new quality assessment system for various types of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), including Shuanghuanglian oral liquid (SHL). Their findings were published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis (1).

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is notable within the global medical community for its therapeutic benefits and market potential, according to the article. However, rapid developments in TCM have led to notable quality control-related challenges. Due to the complex composition of TCM, multifaceted mechanisms of action, and significant component variation across sample batches, focusing on a limited number of compounds is insufficient for comprehensive quality control. Creating scientifically rigorous and widely accepted quality evaluation system for TCM are vital to high-quality development. TCM quality control has previously focused on quantitative determination of one or several key components; therefore, for TCM quality control to evolve further as a research field, the systems used for this purpose must be able to mitigate these potential quality control issues.

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In this study, the scientists adopted a fingerprinting approach based on the concept of holistic TCM control. This strategy primarily uses chromatography alongside other techniques to systematically characterize chemical constituents within TCM. Namely, the group created a complete quality control system for four-dimensional fingerprinting of TCM, which was constructed based on multiple detection techniques. First, dual-wavelength absorption coefficient ratio spectrum (DWAR) was used to ascertain the purity of fingerprint peaks, thereby enhancing the accuracy of both qualitative and quantitative analyses. Next, the detection techniques, high-performance liquid chromatography five-wavelength fusion fingerprint (HPLC–FWFP), gas chromatography fingerprint (GC–FP), UV quantum fingerprint (UV–QFP), and electrochemical fingerprinting (ECFP) were utilized. From there, the scientists examined the data of Shuanghuanglian oral liquid (SHL), which is a TCM that is typically used to treat various diseases, including acute upper respiratory tract infection, acute bronchitis, and pneumonia (2).

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The data from each technique was evaluated with the equal weighted ratio quantitative fingerprinting method (EWRQFM), enabling the analysis of established multidimensional fingerprints. Afterwards, a variation coefficient weighting algorithm (VCWA) integrated these approaches to deliver a comprehensive macroscopic evaluation, with DWAR being used to further confirm the purity of the HPLC fingerprint peaks. Further, according to the scientists, the method successfully integrated “the results of qualitative and quantitative evaluation of HPLC–FWFP, GC–FP, electrochemical quantum fingerprints (EC–QFP), and UV–QFP” (1).

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Overall, this newly established evaluation system could be suitable for controlling the quality of TCM preparations. Though there is more research to be done, this could be a sign of modern technology becoming more compatible with the practices that lead to the creation of various types of TCM.


(1) Wang, P.; Wang, X.; Fan, J.; Li, Y.; et al. Establishing an Integrated, Four-Dimensional Quality Assessment System for Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Case Study of Shuanghuanglian Oral Liquid. J. Pharm. Biomed. Anal. 2024, 239, 115859. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpba.2023.115859

(2) Zhuang, Z.; Wen, J.; Zhang, L.; Zhang, M.; et al. Can Network Pharmacology Identify the Anti-Virus and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Shuanghuanglian Oral Liquid Used in Chinese Medicine for Respiratory Tract Infection? Eur. J. Integr. Med. 2020, 37, 101139. DOI: 10.1016/j.eujim.2020.101139

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