Quantification of the total amount of black cohosh cycloartanoids by integration of one specific 1H NMR signal

Quantitative analysis is an important field in the quality control of medicinal plants, aiming to determine the amount of pharmacologically active constituents in complex matrices. Often biological effects of herbal drugs are not restricted to single compounds, but are rather caused by a number of often biogenetically related plant metabolites. Depending on the complexity of the analyzed plant extract, conflicts between accuracy, such as total content assays using photometric or colorimetric methods, and comprehensiveness, e.g. quantification of one or a few lead compounds can occur. In this study, we present a qHNMR approach determining the total amount of cycloartanoids in black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) rhizomes. Perdeuterated methanol containing 1,2,4,5-tetrachloro-3-nitrobenzene as an internal standard was used for extraction. Amounts of cycloartanoids were then measured by integrating 1H NMR signals of all cycloartenoids' H-19 exo protons. Due to their unusually low chemical shifts, these signals are well separated from all remaining signals in crude extracts. Thus, accurate (recovery rates of 99.5-102.5%) and precise (relative standard deviations below 2.5%) quantification of cycloartanoids was accomplished. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first example of a quantification of the total amount of a pharmacologically relevant compound class by integration of one 1H NMR signal characteristic for all members of this particular compound class. Additionally, we propose a new term and unit for the evaluation of medicinal plants and herbal medicinal products: the "specific partial amount of substance" of pharmacologically active constituents, indicated in mmol/g.


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