American Chemical Society
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Orthogonal Analysis Underscores the Relevance of Primary and Secondary Metabolites in Licorice

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-12-17, 04:15 authored by Charlotte Simmler, Dejan Nikolić, David C. Lankin, Yang Yu, J. Brent Friesen, Richard B. van Breemen, Alicia Lecomte, Céline Le Quémener, Grégoire Audo, Guido F. Pauli
Licorice botanicals are produced from the roots of Glycyrrhiza species (Fabaceae), encompassing metabolites of both plant and rhizobial origin. The composition in both primary and secondary metabolites (1°/2°Ms) reflects the physiologic state of the plant at harvest. Interestingly, the relative abundance of 1°Ms vs 2°Ms in licorice extracts remains undetermined. A centrifugal partition chromatography (CPC) method was developed to purify liquiritin derivatives that represent major bioactive 2°Ms and to concentrate the polar 1°Ms from the crude extract of Glycyrrhiza uralensis. One objective was to determine the purity of the generated reference materials by orthogonal UHPLC-UV/LC-MS and qHNMR analyses. The other objectives were to evaluate the presence of 1°Ms in purified 2°Ms and define their mass balance in a crude botanical extract. Whereas most impurities could be assigned to well-known 1°Ms, p-hydroxybenzylmalonic acid, a new natural tyrosine analogue, was also identified. Additionally, in the most polar fraction, sucrose and proline represented 93% (w/w) of all qHNMR-quantified 1°Ms. Compared to the 2°Ms, accounting for 11.9% by UHPLC-UV, 1°Ms quantified by qHNMR defined an additional 74.8% of G. uralensis extract. The combined orthogonal methods enable the mass balance characterization of licorice extracts and highlight the relevance of 1°Ms, and accompanying metabolites, for botanical quality control.