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Molecules 2013, 18(10), 12324-12345;

Characterization and Determination of 2-(2-Phenylethyl)chromones in Agarwood by GC-MS

Key Laboratory of Biology and Genetic Resources of Tropical Crops, Ministry of Agriculture, Institute of Tropical Bioscience and Biotechnology, Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences, Haikou 571101, China
Hainan Key Laboratory for Research and Development of Natural Product from Li Folk Medicine, Haikou 571101, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 July 2013 / Revised: 19 September 2013 / Accepted: 26 September 2013 / Published: 8 October 2013
(This article belongs to the Section Natural Products Chemistry)
PDF [776 KB, uploaded 18 June 2014]


Agarwood is the fragrant resinous heartwood obtained from certain trees in the genus Aquilaria belonging to the family Thymelaeaceae. 2-(2-Phenylethyl)chromones and characteristic sesquiterpenes are the main classes of aromatic compounds isolated from agarwood. Although there are many sesquiterpenes, relatively few 2-(2-phenylethyl)chromones have been determined in agarwood by GC-MS. After analysis of the MS spectra of eighteen 2-(2-phenylethyl)chromone derivatives isolated from agarwood and identified by NMR spectroscopy, together with the reported MS data and characteristic of structures of 2-(2-phenylethyl)chromones, the MS characterization, fragmentation patterns and characteristic fragment peaks for the compounds were deduced and a table summarizing MS characterization of 2-(2-phenylethyl)chromones in agarwood is presented. All the 2-(2-phenylethyl)chromones previously reported in agarwood are substituted by methoxy or/and hydroxy groups, except for one compound. Due to the fact they all possess the same basic skeleton (molecular weight: 250) and similar substituent groups (methoxy or hydroxy groups), a formula (30m + 16n = MW − 250) is provided to calculate the number of methoxy (m) or hydroxy (n) groups according to molecular ion peak or molecular weight (MW). We deduced that the characteristic fragmentation behaviors of the 2-(2-phenylethyl)chromones are the cleavages of the CH2-CH2 bond between chromone moiety and phenyl moiety. Thus, characteristic fragment ions, such as m/z 91 [C7H7], 107 [C7H6+OH], 121 [C7H6+OCH3], 137 [C7H5+OH+OCH3] are formed by different substituted benzyl moieties, while characteristic fragment ions such as m/z 160 [C10H8O2], 176 [C10H7O2+OH], 190 [C10H7O2+OCH3], 220 [C10H6O2+OCH3×2] are formed by different substituted chromone moieties. Furthermore, rules regarding to the relationship between the positions of hydroxy or methoxy groups and the relative abundances of benzyl and chromone fragment ions have been deduced. Elucidation of how the positions of hydroxy or methoxy groups affect the relative abundances of benzyl and chromone fragment peaks is also provided. Fifteen unidentified compounds of an artificial agarwood sample analyzed by GC-MS, were preliminary determined as 2-(2-phenylethyl)chromones by analysis of their MS characterization and by comparison of their MS spectra with those of 18 standard compounds or 2-(2-phenylethyl)chromones reported in literature according to the above-mentioned methods and rules. This report will be helpful for the analysis and structural elucidation of 2-(2-phenylethyl)chromones in agarwood by GC-MS, and provides fast and reliable characterization of the quality of agarwood. View Full-Text
Keywords: agarwood; 2-(2-phenylethyl)chromone; fragmentation pattern; GC-MS agarwood; 2-(2-phenylethyl)chromone; fragmentation pattern; GC-MS

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Mei, W.-L.; Yang, D.-L.; Wang, H.; Yang, J.-L.; Zeng, Y.-B.; Guo, Z.-K.; Dong, W.-H.; Li, W.; Dai, H.-F. Characterization and Determination of 2-(2-Phenylethyl)chromones in Agarwood by GC-MS. Molecules 2013, 18, 12324-12345.

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