A reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) method was developed for the simultaneous determination of eleven bioactive lignans, namely schisandrin, gomisin J, schisandrol B, angeloylgomisin H, gomisin G, schisantherin A, schisantherin B, deoxyschisandrin, γ-schisandrin, schisandrin B and schisandrin C in Schisandra chinensis with UV detection. An Elite ODS C18 column (250 mm x 4.6 mm, 5 μm) was used for chromatographic separation. The mobile phase consisted of acetonitrile and water under gradient elution. All the calibration curves of the eleven bioactive lignans showed excellent linearity (r ≥ 0.9995) within the ranges of 25.02-150.1 μg/mL for schisandrin, 5.20-31.20 μg/mL for gomisin J, 10.99-65.94 μg/mL for schisandrol B, 14.10-84.60 μg/mL for angeloylgomisin H, 2.55-15.30 μg/mL for gomisin G, 3.79-22.74 μg/mL for schisantherin A, 8.32-49.92 μg/mL for schisantherin B, 5.16-30.96 μg/mL for deoxyschisandrin, 9.10-54.60 μg/mL for γ-schisandrin, 20.70-124.2 μg/mL for schisandrin B and 4.56-27.36 μg/mL for schisandrin C. The average recoveries ranged from 97.74 to 102.71%. This analytical method was also validated with respect to precision, repeatability and accuracy; and it was proven to be sensitive and accurate to simultaneously determine the eleven lignans in S. chinensis. The developed method was further applied to quantify the contents of the eleven lignans in raw and processed S. chinensis. The results revealed that the contents of the eleven lignans increased after processing with vinegar and wine. The lignans profiles obtained by this newly established method provided valuable information for the differentiation of crude and processed S. chinensis and the different effects. These content ratio differences could provide a scientific basis for the selection of origins and clinical usage.

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