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Karg, Cornelia A.; Wang, Pengyu; Vollmar, Angelika M.; Moser, Simone (2019): Re-opening the stage for Echinacea research - Characterization of phylloxanthobilins as a novel anti-oxidative compound class in Echinacea purpurea. In: Phytomedicine, Vol. 60, UNSP 152969
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Abstract

Background: Phylloxanthobilins are tetrapyrrolic natural products that arise from the degradation of chlorophyll. Phylloxanthobilins have been discovered roughly 10 years ago in the leaves of deciduous trees, and are now considered a compound class with high and still unexplored potential of bioactivities. To date, however, there are no reports on the occurrence of phylloxanthobilins in parts of a medicinal plant used for pharmaceutical preparations. Purpose: The relevance of Echinacea purpurea as medicinal plant is undoubtedly high, and a large variety of pharmaceutical preparations is available on the market, mostly for the treatment of the common cold. Nevertheless, its phytochemical profiling has been limited to analysis for previously characterized substances, and this has not explained all its pharmacological efficacies. We therefore set out to investigate the occurrence of phylloxanthobilins in Echinacea purpurea. Methods: Phylloxanthobilins in leaf extracts of Echinacea purpurea were detected using analytical HPLC. Identified phyllobilins were purified from plant material and characterized by UV/Vis, mass spectrometry, MS/MS, and confirmed by co-injections with previously published phyllobilins from different sources. The antioxidant activity of selected isolated phylloxanthobilins was assessed by an in vitro ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) assay;in addition, the ability to scavenge ROS in cells caused by hydrogen peroxide stimulation was determined by measuring H2DCF-DA fluorescence and by assessing cellular GSH levels. Results: In extracts of Echinacea purpurea leaves, an unprecedented diversity of phylloxanthobilins was detected;surprisingly, not only in senescent yellow leaves, but also in green leaves with no visible chlorophyll degradation. Six phylloxanthobilins were identified and structurally characterized. The uptake of phylloxanthobilins by human endothelial kidney cells was demonstrated. When investigating the anti-oxidative activity of these natural products, a potent in vitro activity was demonstrated;in addition, phylloxanthobilins possess intracellular ROS scavenging ability and can prevent oxidative stress as assessed by total cellular GSH levels. Conclusion: Phylloxanthobilins are important constituents of Echinacea purpurea extracts, and our first exploratory studies hint towards promising bioactivities of these natural products, which may be relevant for understanding Echinacea efficacies.