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Molecules 2014, 19(1), 1-8; doi:10.3390/molecules19010001

Article
Two New Phenolic Compounds from the Heartwood of Caesalpinia sappan L.
Ming-Bo Zhao 1, Jun Li 2, She-Po Shi 2, Chen-Qiu Cai 3, Peng-Fei Tu 1,2,*, Li Tang 3, Ke-Wu Zeng 1 and Yong Jiang 1
1
State Key Laboratory of Natural and Biomimetic Drugs, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100191, China
2
Modern Research Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing 100029, China
3
College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Minzu University of China, Beijing 100081, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: pengfeitu@vip.163.com; Tel./Fax: +86-10-8280-2750.
Received: 18 November 2013; in revised form: 9 December 2013 / Accepted: 10 December 2013 /
Published: 19 December 2013

Abstract

: Two new phenolic compounds, epicaesalpin J and 7,10,11-trihydroxydracaenone, were isolated from the heartwood of Caesalpinia sappan L. Their structures were identified by spectroscopic analysis methods, such as 1D and 2D NMR, along with the high resolution mass spectral data. The NO inhibition activities of two new compounds and six known compounds were tested.
Keywords:
Caesalpinia sappan L.; dracaenone; epicaesalpin J; phenolic compounds

1. Introduction

Caesalpinia sappan L. (Leguminosae) is widely distributed in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Burma, India and South and Southwest China [1]. The dried heartwood of this plant, Sappan Lignum, is popularly used as a Traditional Chinese Medicine for the treatment of menorrhalgia, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases [2]. Previous investigations revealed that the extract of Sappan Lignum presented diverse and remarkable bioactivities, and therefore could be used as an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihypertensive and antiatherogenic agent. Prompted by the promising pharmaceutical properties, extensive studies on the phytochemical constituents of Sappan Ligunum have been carried out, which has resulted in the separation of various components including homoisoflavonoids [3,4,5,6,7,8,9], diterpenoids [10], dibenzoxocins [11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18], and a lactone [19]. As a part of our continuing studies on C. sappan [20,21], we report herein the isolation and structural identification of two new compounds 1 and 2 (Figure 1). Moreover, the NO inhibition activities of these new compounds and six known compounds 38 (Figure 1) were tested.

Molecules 19 00001 g001 1024
Figure 1. Structures of compounds 111.

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Figure 1. Structures of compounds 111.
Molecules 19 00001 g001 1024

2. Results and Discussion

Compound 1 was obtained as a colorless gum, Molecules 19 00001 i001 +317.3 (c 0.30, MeOH), UV λmax (MeOH) nm: 212, 242. Its molecular formula was determined as C17H16O6 by HR-ESI-MS (found 317.1021 [M+H]+, calcd. 317.1025). The IR spectrum of 1 showed α,β-unsaturated ketone (1649 cm−1), aromatic ring (1595 cm−1) and hydroxyl group (3443 cm−1) absorptions. The 1H- and 13C-NMR spectra of 1 displayed the characteristic signals of a methoxyl group (δ 3.62), an oxymethylene (δ 4.18 and 3.79), an oxymethine (δ 3.48), an α,β-unsaturated ketone group, and a tetrasubstituted benzene ring, respectively. All protons and carbons were unambiguously assigned by 1D and 2D NMR experiments, including 1H-1H COSY, HSQC, and HMBC (Table 1, Figure 2). Comparison of the NMR data with those of the known compound, caesalpin J (3) [11,21], revealed that 1 possessed a similar skeleton. The major difference is the upfield shift of H-13 from δ 3.84 in 3 to δ 3.48 in 1, and the same phenomenon was also observed in the compounds haematoxin (10) and epihematoxin (9) [22], which suggested that 1 was a stereoisomer of 3. The absolute configuration of 3 had been established in [12] by an X-ray crystallographic study of its triacetate. According to this paper, the ring B and C in 3 were both in a chair conformation. The optical rotation of 1 (+371.3) was consistent with that of 3 (+445.0), which suggested that 1 had the same configuration. In the NOESY spectrum of 1, the cross peaks between H-13 and H-6β, and OMe-13 and H-8 unambiguously confirmed that 1 was a C-13 epimer of 3, and the methoxyl group at C-13 was α-oriented (Figure 3). Thus, the structure of 1 was fully elucidated, and it was named epicaesalpin J.

Table Table 1. 1H-NMR (500 MHz) and 13C-NMR (125 MHz) data for 1 and 2 (δ in ppm and J in Hz).

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Table 1. 1H-NMR (500 MHz) and 13C-NMR (125 MHz) data for 1 and 2 (δ in ppm and J in Hz).
No.1 (in DMSO-d6)1 (in CD3OD)2 (in CD3OD)
δCδHδCδHδCδH
1146.37.03 d (10.0)149.07.16 d (10.0)151.5 6.88 d (10.0)
2129.26.46 dd (10.0, 1.5)130.46.51 dd (10.0, 1.5)128.5 6.45 dd (10.0, 1.5)
3187.1 190.9 191.4
4108.55.48 d (1.5)109.85.57 d (1.5)108.1 5.58 d (1.5)
4a175.0 178.6 179.7
677.84.12 d (11.0)79.84.18 d (11.0)81.0 3.88 dd (11.0)
3.72 d (11.0) 3.79 d (11.0) 4.27 dd (11.0)
769.4 71.3 66.8
837.63.16 d (16.0)39.03.30 d (16.0)43.5 3.16 d (16.0)
2.83 d (16.0) 2.88 d (16.0) 3.10 d (16.0)
8a122.6 124.2 129.5
9115.46.52 s116.66.59 s116.9 6.64 s
10145.0 146.6 146.8
11143.6 145.2 145.1
12112.96.26 s114.16.35 s113.4 6.44 s
12a126.6 128.5 125.5
12b51.1 53.5 47.8
1382.7 3.44 s84.8 3.48 s41.1 1.99 dd (11.5)
2.34 dd (11.5)
OCH361.4 3.53 s62.6 3.62 s--

Compound 2 was obtained as a colorless gum, Molecules 19 00001 i001 −152.6 (c 0.54, MeOH). Its molecular formula was determined as C16H14O5 by HR-ESI-MS (found 285.0765 [M−H]+, calcd. 285.0769). The 1H- and 13C-NMR data of 2 were similar to those of the known compound 7,10-dihydroxy-11-methoxydracaenone (11), except that 2 showed no methoxyl signals. Considering that the molecular weight of 2 was 30 Da less than that of 11, compound 2 was identified as 7,10,11-trihydroxydracaenone. According to [23], the absolute configuration of 11 was different from those of 3 and 1, and 11 had a C ring boat conformation. The optical rotation of 2 was −152.6, which was similar to that of 11 (-465.9). Moreover, in the NOESY spectrum, the cross peaks between H-4 and H-6β, and H-8 and H-6α unambiguously confirmed that 2 had the same configuration as 11, which was opposite of that of 1 and 3 (Figure 3). All protons and carbons were unambiguously assigned by 1D and 2D NMR experiments, including 1H-1H COSY, NOESY, HSQC, and HMBC (Table 1, Figure 2 and Figure 3). Thus, the structure of 2 was confirmed as 7,10,11-trihydroxydracaenone.

Molecules 19 00001 g002 1024
Figure 2. Key HMBC correlations of compound 1 and 2.

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Figure 2. Key HMBC correlations of compound 1 and 2.
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Molecules 19 00001 g003 1024
Figure 3. Key NOESY correlations of compounds 1 and 2.

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Figure 3. Key NOESY correlations of compounds 1 and 2.
Molecules 19 00001 g003 1024

The dracaenone skeleton is uncommon in natural products, and only six compounds with this type of skeleton have been reported [11,22,23]. They are isolated from Caesalpinia sappan L. [11], Haematoxylon campechianum [22], and Dracaena loureiri Gagnep [23], although it is not unexpected that they exist in different genera, because it is believed that the dracaenone skeleton is the oxidative cyclization product of homoisoflavan in biogenetic pathway [24], so we deduced that 1 and 2 should be the oxidative products of 12 and 13, respectively (Scheme 1).

Two new compounds and six known compounds caesalpin J (3), 1-hydroxy-7-methylxanthone (4), 1,5-dihydroxyxanthone (5), 1,7-dihydroxyxanthone (6), butein (7), and sappanone A (8) were evaluated for their inhibitory activities against nitric oxide production in LPS-activated BV-2 microglia according to a previously described method [25]. Compounds 4, 6, 7, and 8 showed obvious inhibitory activity, with IC50 values that were lower than those of quercetin, the positive control (Table 2).

Molecules 19 00001 g004 1024
Scheme 1. Proposed boigenetic pathway for 1 and 2.

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Scheme 1. Proposed boigenetic pathway for 1 and 2.
Molecules 19 00001 g004 1024
Table Table 2. Inhibitory effects of compounds 18 and quercetin.

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Table 2. Inhibitory effects of compounds 18 and quercetin.
CompoundViability (at 50 µM, %)IC50 (µM)Compound Viability (at 50 µM, %)IC50(µM)
196.4552.62 6101.6421.46
299.2956.71 794.0015.46
396.1345.87 899.298.26
498.9414.23 quercetin 23.42
5101.1928.65

3. Experimental

3.1. General

Optical rotations were measured on an Autopol III automatic polarimeter (Rudolph Research Co., Hackettstown, NJ, USA). IR spectra were measured using a Thermo Nicolet Nexus 470 FT-IR spectrometer (Thermo Nicolet, Madison, WI, USA) with KBr disks. HR-ESI-MS were carried out on a Q-STAR ESI-TOF-MS/MS spectrometer (AB SCIEX, Framingham, MA, USA). 1D and 2D-NMR spectra were recorded on a Varian Inova-500 spectrometer (Varian, Palo Alto, CA, USA) with TMS as internal standard. Silica gel (200–300 mesh, Qingdao Marine Chemical, Qingdao, China) was used for column chromatography. Sephedex LH-20 gel was purchased from GE Healthcare Bio-Sciences AB (Uppsala, Sweden). MCI gel (CHP 20/P120) was purchased from Mitsubishi Chemical Industries Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan). Semi-preparative HPLC was performed on a Waters XBridge semi-preparative C-18 column (10 × 250 mm, 5 μm, Waters Co., Milford, CT, USA), eluting with MeOH/H2O at a flow rate of 2–3 mL/min; the detector used was DAD (200–400 nm) at room temperature. Fractions were monitored by TLC, and spots were visualized by spraying TLC plates with 10% sulfuric acid in ethanol and heating at 110 °C for 5–10 min.

3.2. Plant Material

Sappan Lignum (the heartwood of Caesalpinia sappan L.) was purchased from the Anguo medicinal materials market, Hebei Province of China, in September 2010. The plant material was authenticated by one of the authors, Prof. Peng-Fei Tu (School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University) and a voucher specimen (No.M-6-(5)) was deposited at the Herbarium of Peking University Modern Research Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine.

3.3. Extraction and Isolation

The dried heartwood of Caesalpinia sappan L. (21 kg) were chopped and extracted three times with 95% EtOH (168 L, 126 L, 126 L) to give 2.5 kg of crude extract. The extract was then suspended in water (5 L) and successively partitioned with petroleum ether, EtOAc and n-BuOH (20 L) to give after solvent removal fractions PE (60 g), EA (1,400 g), and BU (360 g), respectively.

A portion of EA (800 g) was subjected to silica gel column chromatography eluted with a step-wise gradient of CHCl3 and MeOH to obtain fractions 1–12. Fraction 5 was chromatographed on silica gel eluted with petroleum ether/EtOAc (3:1 to 1:1) to give subfractions 5a–f. Fraction 5e was separated by a silica gel column eluted with CHCl3/MeOH (25:1–10:1) to give 5ea–ed. Fraction 5ec was passed through Sephadex LH-20 eluted with CHCl3/MeOH (1:1), and further purified by semi-preparative HPLC (MeOH/H2O 85:15) to yield 1 (12.0 mg), along with 3 (10.0 mg). Fraction 8 was subjected to silica gel column chromatography eluted with CHCl3/Me2CO (10:1–1:1) to give 8a–h. Fraction 8d was subjected to a silica gel column eluted with CHCl3/MeOH (20:1–5:1) to give 8da–df. Fraction 8db was separated by a MCI column eluted with MeOH/H2O (30:70–100:0) to yield 2 (11.0 mg). The isolation of the known compounds had been reported in our previous papers [21,22].

3.4. Spectral Data

Epicaesalpin J (1). Colorless gum. Molecules 19 00001 i001 +371.3° (c 0.30, MeOH), UV λmax (MeOH) nm: 212, 242. IR νmax (KBr) cm−1: 3443, 2957, 1649, 1595, 1454, 1395, 1016. HR-ESI-MS m/z: 317.1021 [(M+H)+, calcd. for C17H17O6 317.1025]. 1H-NMR and 13C-NMR (CD3OD and DMSO-d6) see Table 1.

7,10,11-Trihydroxydracaenone (2). Colorless gum. Molecules 19 00001 i001 −152.6° (c 0.54, MeOH). UV λmax (MeOH) nm: 214, 240. IR νmax (KBr) cm−1: 3381, 1653, 1591, 1522, 1451, 1395, 1065. HR-ESI-MS m/z: 285.0765 [(M−H), calcd. for C16H14O5 285.0769]. 1H-NMR and 13C-NMR (CD3OD) see Table 1.

The spectral data of known compounds were reported in our previous literatures [20,21].

3.5. Inhibition of NO Production in LPS-Stimulated BV-2 Microglia

The assay was performed according to a previously described method [25]. Each compound was dissolved in DMSO and further diluted in the medium to produce different concentrations with a maximum concentration of 50 μM. The absorbance was measured at 570 nm with a Multilabel Plate Reader (Sunrise TECAN, Männedorf, Switzerland). Cytotoxicity was determined with the MTT assay. Quercetin (Sigma-Aldrich, Foster City, CA, USA) was used as the positive control.

4. Conclusions

The chemical study of the heartwood of C. sappan resulted in the isolation of two new compounds: epicaesalpin J (1) and 7,10,11-trihydroxydracaenone (2). Compounds 1 and 2 both have the dracaenone skeleton, which is uncommon in natural products. The new compounds, together with six known phenolic compounds, were evaluated for NO production inhibitory activity in LPS-stimulated BV-2 microglia. Compounds 4, 6, 7, and 8 showed obvious inhibitory activity.

Acknowledgments

Financial support from the Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81303253) is gratefully acknowledged.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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