Context: Xysmalobium undulatum (L.) Aiton f var. (Asclepiadaceae), commonly known as uzara, is an ethnomedicinally important plant from southern Africa used to treat a variety of ailments. In addition to local use in African Traditional Medicine (ATM), formulations containing uzara have been successfully marketed by a number of pharmaceutical companies. Despite its commercialization, published adequate quality control (QC) protocols are lacking.
Objective: The study was conducted to develop QC protocols for uzara based on chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques.
Materials and methods: High performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC) and liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS), were used to develop phytochemical fingerprints of ethanolic root extracts of 47 uzara samples collected from eight distinct localities in South Africa. Mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy was also explored as a suitable alternative technique for rapid and economic quantification of uzarin.
Results: Adequate chromatographic profiles were obtained using both HPTLC and LC-MS analyses. The chromatographic patterns showed qualitative similarities among plants collected from different locations. The levels of uzarin, the major constituent of uzara, were highly variable between locations, ranging from 17.8 to 139.9 mg/g (dry weight). A good coefficient of determination (R2 = 0.939) and low root mean square error of prediction (RMSEP = 7.9 mg/g) confirmed the accuracy of using MIR-PLS calibration models for the quantification of uzarin.
Discussion and conclusion: Both HPTLC and LC-MS can be used as tools in developing quality control procedures for uzara. MIR in combination with chemometrics provides a fast alternative for the quantification of uzarin.