Similarity analyses of chromatographic fingerprints as tools for identification and quality control of green tea

G. Alaerts, J. Van Erps, S. Pieters, M. Dumarey, A. M. van Nederkassel, M. Goodarzi, J. Smeyers-Verbeke, Y. Vander Heyden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Similarity assessment of complex chromatographic profiles of herbal medicinal products is important as a potential tool for their identification. Mathematical similarity parameters have the advantage to be more reliable than visual similarity evaluations of often subtle differences between the fingerprint profiles. In this paper, different similarity analysis (SA) parameters are applied on green-tea chromatographic fingerprint profiles in order to test their ability to identify (dis)similar tea samples. These parameters are either based on correlation or distance measurements. They are visualised in colour maps and evaluation plots. Correlation (r) and congruence (c) coefficients are shown to provide the same information about the similarity of samples. The standardised Euclidean distance (ds) reveals less information than the Euclidean distance (de), while Mahalanobis distances (dm) are unsuitable for the similarity assessment of chromatographic fingerprints. The adapted similarity score (ss*) combines the advantages of r (or c) and de. Similarity analysis based on correlation is useful if concentration differences between samples are not important, whereas SA based on distances also detects concentration differences well. The evaluation plots including statistical confidence limits for the plotted parameter are found suitable for the evaluation of new suspected samples during quality assurance. The ss*colour maps and evaluation plots are found to be the best tools (in comparison to the other studied parameters) for the distinction between deviating and genuine fingerprints. For all studied data sets it is confirmed that adequate data pre-treatment, such as aligning the chromatograms, prior to the similarity assessment, is essential. Furthermore, green-tea samples chromatographed on two dissimilar High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) columns provided the same similarity assessment. Combining these complementary fingerprints did not improve the similarity analysis of the studied data set.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences
StatePublished - 2012


  • Correlation and distance matrix
  • Fingerprint chromatography
  • Green tea
  • Quality control
  • Sample identification
  • Similarity analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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