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Zuota is regarded as the king of Tibetan medicine. However, due to the confidentiality of this precious medicine, the scientific characterization of Zuota is very scarce, which limits the pharmacology and biosafety studies of Zuota. Herein, we collected four different Zuota samples from Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan and characterized them by multiple techniques. Our results showed that Zuota was mainly an inorganic mixture of HgS, sulfur, and graphite. Morphologically, Zuota samples were composed of nanoparticles, which further aggregated into microsized particles. Chemically, the majorities of Zuota were S and Hg (in the forms of HgS and pure sulfur). All samples contained pure sulfur with orthorhombic crystalline. Zuota from Qinghai province had different HgS crystalline, namely, hexagonal crystalline. The others were all face-centered cubic crystalline. Carbon in Zuota NPs was in the form of graphite. The implication to future studies of Zuota was discussed.

To provide insights into the mechanism for the attenuate-synergistic effect of Zuota to Tibetan medicine Renqing Mangjue, a contrasted study was carried out on the pharmacokinetics of brucine and strychnine in mice plasm, which are active and toxicant ingredient in the Tibetan medicine Renqing Mangjue. LC-MS/MS was used to detect simultaneously the concentrations of brucine and strychnine in mice plasm at-different time intervals after administration parallelly and randomly, and the pharmacokinetic software Kinetica 5. 0 was selected to non-compartmental analysis (NCA) for data, and statistical analysis software SPSS 19. 0 was used for significance test on the pharmacokinetic parameters. A reliable LC-MS/MS method was established for the determination of brucine and strychnine in blood plasma, which are consistent with the requirements of the preclinical pharmacokinetic study confirmed by the methodology. The linear concentration ranges of brucine and strychnine were 0.301-104.4 µg · L(-1) (r = 0.999 5) and 0.305-106 µg · L(-1) (r = 0.999 7), respectively; The intra-day and inter-day variable coefficients were both less than 10.0% with good precision; The average extraction recoveries of brucine and strychnine were 116.23% and 112.82%, and RSD were 3.2% and 2.3% separately;The average matrix effects of brucine and strychnine were 122.48% and 116.36%, and RSD were 7.7% and 4.4%, respectively. The pharmacokinetic results showed that AUCtot of brucine and strychnine in Zuota group were both increased remarkably (P < 0.05), and the Cmax of brucine in Zuota group was about 5.25-fold higher than that of brucine in non-Zuota group (P < 0.05). The Tmax of brucine and strychnine reduced to one-eighth and one-quarter respectively compared with those in Non-Zuota group. In addition, the eliminations of brucine and strychnine in vivo were accelerated after the compatibility of Zuota. A significant difference (P < 0.05) occurred at the MRT0-t, of brucine, while the MRT0-∞ and Lz of strychnine were statistically significant upon the inspection level α = 0.1. It was found that the absorption degree of brucine and strychnine in Zuota group increased in the range of the safe dose (or concentration), while their elimination rates were accelerated, which may be one of the mechanisms for attenuate-synergistic effect of Zuota to Tibetan medicine Renqing Mangjue.