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Journal of Analytical Methods in Chemistry
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 1073607, 13 pages
Research Article

Metabolite Profiling, Pharmacokinetics, and In Vitro Glucuronidation of Icaritin in Rats by Ultra-Performance Liquid Chromatography Coupled with Mass Spectrometry

Department of Pharmacy, The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, Henan 450052, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Shuzhang Du and Xiaojian Zhang

Received 5 April 2017; Accepted 23 May 2017; Published 10 July 2017

Academic Editor: Filomena Conforti

Copyright © 2017 Beibei Zhang 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.


Icaritin is a naturally bioactive flavonoid with several significant effects. This study aimed to clarify the metabolite profiling, pharmacokinetics, and glucuronidation of icaritin in rats. An ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS) assay was developed and validated for qualitative and quantitative analysis of icaritin. Glucuronidation rates were determined by incubating icaritin with uridine diphosphate glucuronic acid- (UDPGA-) supplemented microsomes. Kinetic parameters were derived by appropriate model fitting. A total of 30 metabolites were identified or tentatively characterized in rat biosamples based on retention times and characteristic fragmentations, following proposed metabolic pathway which was summarized. Additionally, the pharmacokinetics parameters were investigated after oral administration of icaritin. Moreover, icaritin glucuronidation in rat liver microsomes was efficient with (the intrinsic clearance) values of 1.12 and 1.56 mL/min/mg for icaritin-3-O-glucuronide and icaritin-7-O-glucuronide, respectively. Similarly, the values of icaritin-3-O-glucuronide and icaritin-7-O-glucuronide in rat intestine microsomes (RIM) were 1.45 and 0.86 mL/min/mg, respectively. Taken altogether, dehydrogenation at isopentenyl group and glycosylation and glucuronidation at the aglycone were main biotransformation process in vivo. The general tendency was that icaritin was transformed to glucuronide conjugates to be excreted from rat organism. In conclusion, these results would improve our understanding of metabolic fate of icaritin in vivo.