Comparison of Two Different Astragali Radix by a 1H NMR-Based Metabolomic Approach

Astragali Radix (AR) is a commonly used herbal drug in traditional chinese medicine and is widely used for the treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, nephropathy, and neuropathy. The main source of AR in China is the dried root of Astragalus membranaceus var. mongholicus (Bge.) Hsiao, and both cultivated and wild ARs are used clinically. A systematic comparison of cultivated AR (GS-AR) and wild AR (SX-AR) should be performed to ensure the clinical efficacy and safety. In this study, the chemical composition of the two different ARs, which were collected in the Shanxi (wild) and Gansu (cultivated) provinces, were compared by NMR-based metabolic fingerprint coupled with multivariate analysis. The SX-AR- and GS-AR-induced metabolic changes in the endogenous metabolites in mice were also compared. The results showed that SX-AR and GS-AR differed significantly not only in the primary metabolites but also in the secondary metabolites. However, alterations among the endogenous metabolites in the serum, lung, liver, and spleen were relatively small. This study provided a novel and valuable method for the evaluation of the consistency and diversity of herbal drugs, and further studies should be conducted on the difference in polysaccharides as well as the biological effects between the two kinds of AR.