Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 484670, 9 pages
Research Article

Rapid Identification and Verification of Indirubin-Containing Medicinal Plants

1College of Pharmacy, Hubei University of Chinese Medicine, No. 1 Huangjiahu West Road, Hongshan District, Wuhan 430065, China
2Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100700, China

Received 19 June 2014; Revised 26 August 2014; Accepted 11 September 2014

Academic Editor: Yi-tao Wang

Copyright © 2015 Zhigang Hu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Indirubin, one of the key components of medicinal plants including Isatis tinctoria, Polygonum tinctorium, and Strobilanthes cusia, possesses great medicinal efficacy in the treatment of chronic myelocytic leukemia (CML). Due to misidentification and similar name, materials containing indirubin and their close relatives frequently fall prey to adulteration. In this study, we selected an internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) for distinguishing these indirubin-containing species from five of their usual adulterants, after assessing identification efficiency of matK, rbcL, psbA-trnH, and ITS2 among these species. The results of genetic distances and neighbor-joining (NJ) phylogenetic tree indicated that ITS2 region is a powerful DNA barcode to accurately identify these indirubin-containing species and discriminate them from their adulterants. Additionally, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was used to verify indirubin in different organs of the above species. The results showed that indirubin had been detected in the leaves of Is. tinctoria, P. tinctorium, S. cusia, and Indigo Naturalis (made from their mixture), but not in their roots, or in the leaves of their adulterants. Therefore, this study provides a novel and rapid method to identify and verify indirubin-containing medicinal plants for effective natural treatment of CML.