Rhizoma corydalis and Radix Angelicae Dahurica (Yuanhu–Baizhi) herbal medicine pair has been used for thousands of years and has been reported to be potentially active in recent cancer therapy. But the exact active components or fractions remain unclear. In this study, a new comprehensive two-dimensional (2D) 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (APTES)-decorated MCF7-cell membrane chromatography (CMC)/capcell-C18 column/time-of-flight mass spectrometry system was established for screening potential active components and clarifying the active fraction of Yuanhu–Baizhi pair. APTES was modified on the surface of silica, which can provide an amino group to covalently link cell membrane fragments with the help of glutaraldehyde in order to improve the stability and column life span of the MCF7 CMC column. The comprehensive 2D MCF7-CMC system showed good separation and identification abilities. Our screen results showed that the retention components are mainly from the alkaloids in Yuanhu (12 compounds) and the coumarins (10 compounds) in Baizhi, revealing the active fractions of Yuanhu–Baizhi herbal medicine pair. Oxoglaucine, protopine, berberine, osthole, isopimpinellin and palmitic acid were selected as typical components to test the effects on cell proliferation and their IC 50 were calculated as 38.17 μM, 29.45 μM, 45.42 μM, 132.7 μM, 156.8 μM and 90.5 μM respectively. Cell apoptosis assay showed that the drug efficacy was obtained mainly through inducing cell apoptosis. Furthermore, a synergistic assay results demonstrated that oxoglaucine (representative of alkaloids from Yuanhu) and isopimpinellin (representative of coumarins from Baizhi) showed significant synergistic efficacy with GFT, indicating that these components may act on other membrane receptors. The proposed 2D CMC system could also be equipped with other cells for further applications. Besides, the follow-up in-vitro experimental strategy using cell proliferation assay, cell apoptosis assay and synergistic assay proved to be a practical way to confirm the active fractions of herbal medicine. © 2017

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