Forsythiae Fructus (FF) is a widely used folk medicine in China, Japan, and Korea. The distribution of bioactive constituents throughout the fruit segments has rarely been addressed, although mounting evidence suggests that plant secondary metabolites are synthesized and distributed regularly. The phytochemical profiles of three segments of FF (pericarp, stalk and seed) were firstly revealed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)-based quantitative analysis of twenty-one bioactive constituents, including three phenylethanoid glycosides, five lignans, eight flavonoids, and five phenolic acids to explore the spatial distribution of bioactive constituents. Furthermore, the hierarchical clustering analysis (HCA) and one-way analysis of variance (one-way ANOVA) were conducted to visualize and verify the distribution regularity of twenty-one analytes among three segments. The results showed that phytochemical profiles of the three segments were similar, i.e., phenylethanoid glycosides covering the most part were the predominant compounds, followed by lignans, flavonoids and phenolic acids. Nevertheless, the abundance of twenty-one bioactive constituents among three segments was different. Specifically, phenylethanoid glycosides were highly expressed in the seed; lignans were primarily enriched in the stalk; flavonoids were largely concentrated in the pericarp, while the contents of phenolic acids showed no much difference among various segments. The research improves our understanding of distribution patterns for bioactive constituents in FF, and also complements some scientific data for further exploring the quality formation mechanism of FF.
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