Next Article in Journal
Tetrasubstituted Imidazolium Salts as Potent Antiparasitic Agents against African and American Trypanosomiases
Previous Article in Journal
Influence of Kartogenin on Chondrogenic Differentiation of Human Bone Marrow-Derived MSCs in 2D Culture and in Co-Cultivation with OA Osteochondral Explant
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:

Two Novel Proline-Containing Catechin Glucoside from Water-Soluble Extract of Codonopsis pilosula

State Key Laboratory of Phytochemistry and Plant Resources in West China, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China
School of Pharmacy, Henan University of Chinese Medicine, Zhengzhou 450008, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Guangdong Key Laboratory for Genome Stability & Disease Prevention, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Medicine, Shenzhen University Health Science Center, Shenzhen 518060, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Molecules 2018, 23(1), 180;
Submission received: 16 December 2017 / Revised: 2 January 2018 / Accepted: 8 January 2018 / Published: 16 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Natural Products Chemistry)


Choushenflavonoids A (1) and B (2), two unusual proline-containing catechin glucosides, were isolated from the roots of Codonopsis pilosula cultivated in a high-altitude location of Yunnan province. Their structures were determined by spectroscopic data and chemical methods. Specifically, the absolute configuration of glucose residue in 1 and 2 was assigned by acid hydrolysis followed by derivatization and gas chromatography (GC) analysis. In addition, biological evaluation of 1 and 2 against Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) was carried out.

Graphical Abstract

1. Introduction

The genus Codonopsis is a perennial herb in the family Campanulaceae, and contains 42 species predominantly found in Central, East, and South Asia. There are approximately 40 species that can be found in China and these are mainly distributed in the western and northern parts of China, such as Gansu, Sichuan, Guizhou, Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces [1,2]. The dry roots of Codonopsis pilosula, known as Dang Shen in Chinese, are a common traditional medicine that has been used for thousands of years [3]. It has been used to replenish Qi, nourish blood, strengthen immunity, improve appetite, decrease blood pressure, etc. [4,5]. Previous phytochemical studies on this plant revealed that it contains phytosteroids, sesquiterpenes, triterpenes, alkaloids, alkylalcohol glycosides, phenylpropanoid glycosides, polyacetylene glycosides, neolignan, and polysaccharides [6,7]. Additionally, modern pharmacological investigations have shown that the extract of C. pilosula could regulate immunity, improve learning and memory ability, inhibit iNOS, and so forth [8,9]. During our study on traditional Chinese medicines, C. pilosula, produced in Yunnan province, was investigated, this herb is mainly distributed at 2800–4200 m slopes of grassland and shrub and is known locally as Chou Shen in Yunnan province. It has been used as a food in Yunnan province, and can be seen in vegetable markets every autumn or winter. Secondary metabolites are influenced by the environment; to gain insight into the difference of C. pilosula in different regions, we undertook a study on Chou Shen grown at high altitude in Yunnan province, which resulted in the isolation of two unusual proline-containing catechin glucosides. In this paper, we describe their isolation, structural identification and biological activity against SIRT1, a nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide (NAD)-dependent deacetylase.

2. Results and Discussion

2.1. Structure Elucidation of the Compounds

The EtOH extract of C. pilosula was suspended in water and partitioned with EtOAc. The aqueous layer was concentrated and submitted to a combination of chromatography to afford compounds 1 and 2 (Figure 1).
Choushenflavonoid A (1), isolated as a brownish yellow powder, has the molecular formula C27H33NO13 (12 degrees of unsaturation), based on analysis of its HRESIMS at m/z 602.1846 [M + Na]+ (C27H33NNaO13, calcd. for 602.1850), 13C-NMR, and DEPT spectra (Figure S6). The 1H-NMR spectrum (Table 1) exhibited signals at δH 4.77 (d, J = 6.4 Hz, H-2), 3.92 (m, H-3), 2.59 (dd, J = 16.3, 4.7 Hz, Ha-4), and 2.45 (dd, J = 16.3, 7.1 Hz, Hb-4) and the presence of an ABX system [δH 6.75 (brs, H-2′), 6.70 (d, J = 8.1 Hz, H-5′), 6.62 (brd, J = 8.1 Hz, H-6′)]. The 13C-NMR and DEPT spectra (Table 1) showed that this substance contains 27 carbons, including six methylene (one oxygenated), twelve methine (four sp2, eight sp3), and nine quaternary carbons (all sp2 including five oxygenated and one carboxyl). In addition, the observation of one anomeric proton at δH 4.79 (d, J = 7.2 Hz), five methine (δC 101.1, 77.2, 76.2, 72.8, 69.2), and one methylene (δC 60.4) in the 1H- and 13C-NMR spectra of 1 revealed the presence of a sugar residue. These data are similar to those for catechin-7-O-β-d-glucoside [10]. Apart from one isolated methylene (δH 4.20, d, J = 13.1 Hz; δH 4.12, d, J = 13.1 Hz), the three unassigned methylene (δC 52.2, 28.0, 23.1), one methine (δC 66.6), and one carboxyl group (δC 169.9) might be a proline residue if taken into consideration of the presence of a nitrogen atom and unsaturation degrees required by the molecular formula. This conclusion was confirmed by analysis of the 1H-1H COSY correlations of H-2′′/H-3′′/H-4′′/H-5′′ (Figure S9 and Figure 2) as well as the HMBC (Figure S8) correlations of H-2′′/C-6′′, H-5′′/C-2′′ (Figure S8, and Figure 2). Judging from the chemical shift of C-1′′, the isolated methylene group (CH2-1′′) should be connected to a nitrogen atom, which was supported by the observation of the HMBC correlation of H-1′′/C-2′′, C-5′′. The HMBC correlations of H-1′′/C-7, C-8, C-9, H-1′′′/C-7 finally determined the planar structure of 1 as shown. The trans relationship of H-2/H-3 was readily concluded from the coupling constant of H-2 (d, J = 6.4 Hz). For the configuration of sugar moiety, acid hydrolysis of 1 followed by TLC comparison and GC analysis allowed the assignment of d-glucose. In detail, the l-cysteine methyl ester hydrochloride derivatives of the hydrolysis product of 1, d-, and l-glucose were prepared and subjected to GC comparison. The retention time (Figures S1–S3) for that of 1 is 21.319 min, close to that of d-glucose (21.280 min), rather than l-glucose (21.696 min), clarifying the type of sugar and its configuration. The presence of a proline residue in 1 made it structurally intriguing. It is rather challengeable to assign the absolute configuration at C-2′′, whereas, we could tentatively conclude that the proline residue should be l-form, since l-rather than d-configuration is more abundant or common in nature. Taken together, the structure of 1 was identified and named as choushenflavonoid A.
Choushenflavonoid B (2), isolated as a brownish yellow powder, has the molecular formula C27H33NO13 (12 degrees of unsaturation), based on analysis of its HRESIMS m/z 602.1857 [M + Na]+ (C27H33NNaO13 calcd. for 602.1850), 13C-NMR, and DEPT spectra (Figure S14). The 13C-NMR and DEPT spectra (Table 1) showed that this substance contains 27 carbons, including six methylene (one oxygenated), twelve methine (four sp2, eight sp3), and nine quaternary carbons (all sp2 including five oxygenated and one carboxyl). The NMR spectral data of 2 are very similar to those of 1, differing in that C-1′′ in 2 was connected to C-6, which was identified by the HMBC correlations of H-1′′/C-5, C-6, C-7. Additionally, the HMBC correlations (Figure S16 and Figure 2) of H-1′′′/C-7 clearly indicated the location of the sugar moiety. In this way, the planar structure of 2 was deduced. Similarly, the JH-2,H-3 (6.8 Hz) value indicated a trans relationship. Evidence for the presence of a d-glucose residue in the structure of 2 came from analysis of the acid hydrolysis product in the manner as described for 1. Thus, the structure of 2 was determined to be that shown in Figure 1.

2.2. Biological Evaluation

SIRT1, as a nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide (NAD)-dependent deacetylase, is reported to have biological functions affecting various processes, such as aging, cancer, metabolism, neurodegeneration, and immunity [11,12,13]. Inhibition of SIRT1 expression leads to increased tumor cell death and no toxic effect on normal cells in culture inhibitor [14]. With this assay in hand, Compounds 1 and 2 were tested for their inhibitory activity against SIRT1. Unfortunately, both 1 and 2 were found not to be active in this assay, even at a concentration of 200 μM (data not shown).

3. Experimental Section

3.1. General Procedures

Column chromatography was undertaken on D101 macroporous resin (Tianjin Haiguang Chemical Co., Ltd., Tianjing, China), RP-18 (40–60 µm; Daiso Co., Tokyo, Japan), and Sephadex LH-20 (Amersham Pharmacia, Uppsala, Sweden). Optical rotations were collected on a Horiba SEPA-300 polarimeter (Horiba, Kyoto, Japan). UV spectra were obtained on a Shimadzu UV-2401PC spectrometer (Shimadzu Corporation, Tokyo, Japan). CD spectra were measured on a Chirascan instrument (Applied Photophysics, Surrey, UK). GC analysis was performed using an Agilent 6890N gas chromatography instrument (Agilent Technologies, Santa Clara, CA, USA). Semi-preparative or analytic HPLC was carried out using an Agilent 1200 liquid chromatograph (Agilent Technologies, Santa Clara, CA, USA) the column used was a 250 mm × 9.4 mm, i.d., 5 µm. NMR spectra were recorded on an AV-600 spectrometer (Bruker, Karlsruhe, Germany) with TMS as an internal standard. ESIMS and HRESIMS were collected by an Agilent G6230TOF MS spectrometer (Agilent Technologies, Santa Clara, CA, USA).

3.2. Plant Material

The roots of C. pilosula were collected from Xundian County in Yunnan province, China, a cultivation base, in November, 2015. The cultivated plant was ever identified by Prof. De-Yuan Hong at Beijing Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a voucher specimen (1016268) was deposited at the Herbarium of Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China.

3.3. Extraction and Isolation

The dried roots of C. pilosula (20 kg) were powdered and soaked by 85% aqueous EtOH (4 × 80 L × 24 h) to give a crude extract, which was suspended in water followed by extraction with EtOAc to afford an EtOAc-soluble extract and an aqueous extract. The latter was divided into three parts (Fr.1–Fr.3) by using a D101 macroporous resin column eluted with gradient aqueous EtOH (5%, 40%, and 100%). Fr.2 (30 g) was separated by Sephadex (Amersham Pharmacia, Uppsala, Sweden) LH-20 (MeOH) to yield two fractions (Fr.2.1 and Fr.2.2). Fr.2.2 (19 g) was separated by a RP-18 column (MeOH/H2O, 10–70%) to get eight fractions (Fr.2.2.1–Fr.2.2.8). Of these, Fr.2.2.2 (2.3 g) was purified by Sephadex LH-20 (MeOH), followed by semi-preparative HPLC (MeCN/H2O, 8%, flow rate: 3 mL/min) to yield compound 1 (3.5 mg, Rt = 8.2 min) and (MeOH/H2O, 15%, flow rate: 2.5 mL/min) to yield compound 2 (5.2 mg, Rt = 28.5 min).

3.4. Compound Characterization Data

Choushenflavonoid A (1): Brownish yellow powders; [α]D21.9 –42.4 (c 0.15, MeOH); UV (MeOH) λmax (logε) 285 (3.18), 211 (4.13) nm; ESIMS m/z 602 [M + Na]+, HRESIMS m/z 602.1846 [M + Na]+ (calcd. for C27H33NNaO13, 602.1850); 1H- and 13C-NMR data, see Table 1.
Choushenflavonoid B (2): Brownish yellow powders; [α]D24.3–42.7 (c 0.12, MeOH); UV (MeOH) λmax (logε) 286 (3.16), 211 (4.08) nm; ESIMS m/z 602 [M + Na]+, HRESIMS m/z 602.1857 [M + Na]+ (calcd. for C27H33NNaO13, 602.1850); 1H- and 13C-NMR data, see Table 1.

3.5. Acid Hydrolysis and Sugar Analysis

A solution of 1 or 2 (2.0 mg) in 1 N HCl was stirred at 70 °C for 5 h. After cooling, the mixtures were extracted with EtOAc. The aqueous layer was neutralized with 1 N NaOH and concentrated in vacuo, which was subsequently dissolved in anhydrous pyridine (2 mL). To these solutions, l-cysteine methyl ester hydrochloride (2.0 mg) was added, and the mixtures were stirred at 60 °C for 1 h and concentrated in vacuo at 0 °C. Slow addition of 1-(trimethylsiyl) imidazole to the mixtures was followed by stirring at 60 °C for 1 h. Aliquots (4 µL) of the supernatants were subjected to chiral GC analysis to determine that d-glucose units present in 1 and 2 [15].

3.6. SIRT1 Inhibition

For examination of the SIRT1 inhibition of the compounds, each well contained 0.5 U of SIRT1 enzyme, 1000 μM of NAD+ (Enzo Life Sciences, New York, NY, USA), 100 μM of SIRT1 peptide substrate (Enzo Life Sciences, New York, NY, USA), and SIRT1 assay buffer (50 mM Tris-HCl, pH 8.0, 137 mM NaCl, 2.7 mM KCl, 1 mM MgCl2, 1 mg/mL BSA) along with the test compounds at an indicated concentration. The plate was incubated at 37 °C for 30 min and the reaction was stopped using Fluor de Lys developer II solution (Enzo Life Sciences, New York, NY, USA) containing 2 mM nicotinamide. The plate was further incubated at 37 °C for another 30 min and the samples were read by a fluorimeter with an excitation wavelength of 360 nm and emission wavelength of 460 nm [16].

4. Conclusions

To conclude, this study led to the isolation of two unusual proline-containing catechin glucosides, making 1 and 2 novel natural product hybrids. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first examples of flavonoids with a flavanol skeleton containing a proline moiety.

Supplementary Materials

The following are available online.


This study was supported by National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (81525026), the Major Project on Biotechnology of Yunnan province (2014FC002), and National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFA0503900).

Author Contributions

Y.-X.C. conceived and designed the experiments, F.-Y.Q. performed the experiments. L.-Z.C., B.-H.L., and Y.-M.Y. analyzed the data; Y.-X.C. wrote the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


  1. He, J.Y.; Ma, N.; Zhu, S.; Komatsu, K.; Li, Z.Y.; Fu, W.M. The genus Codonopsis (Campanulaceae): A review of phytochemistry, bioactivity and quality control. J. Nat. Med. 2015, 69, 1–22. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  2. He, J.Y.; Zhu, S.; Goda, Y.; Cai, S.Q.; Komatsu, K. Quality evaluation of medicinally-used Codonopsis species and Codonopsis Radix based on the contents of pyrrolidine alkaloids, phenylpropanoid and polyacetylenes. J. Nat. Med. 2014, 68, 326–339. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. Li, Z.T.; Zhu, L.B.; Zhang, H.; Yang, J.; Zhao, J.; Du, D.W.; Meng, J.P.; Yang, F.; Zhao, Y.L.; Sun, J.F. Protective effect of a polysaccharide from stem of Codonopsis pilosula against renal ischemia/reperfusion injury in rats. Carbohydr. Polym. 2012, 90, 1739–1743. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. Xie, M.; Yan, Z.Q.; Ren, X.; Li, X.Z.; Qin, B. Codonopilate A, a triterpenyl ester as main autotoxin in cultivated soil of Codonopsis pilosula (Franch.) Nannf. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2017, 65, 2032–2038. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  5. Chao, C.H.; Juang, S.H.; Chan, H.H.; Shen, D.Y.; Liao, Y.R.; Shih, H.C.; Huang, C.H.; Cheng, J.C.; Chen, F.A.; Hung, H.Y.; et al. UV-guided isolation of polyynes and polyenes from the roots of Codonopsis pilosula. RSC Adv. 2015, 5, 41324–42331. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  6. Yang, C.X.; Gou, Y.Q.; Chen, J.Y.; An, J.; Chen, W.X.; Hu, F.D. Structural characterization and antitumor activity of a pectic polysaccharide from Codonopsis pilosula. Carbohydr. Polym. 2013, 98, 886–895. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. He, J.Y.; Zhu, S.; Komatsu, K. HPLC/UV analysis of polyacetylenes, phenylpropanoid and pyrrolidine alkaloids in medicinally used Codonopsis species. Phytochem. Anal. 2014, 25, 213–219. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. Jiang, Y.P.; Liu, Y.F.; Gao, Q.L.; Jiang, Z.B.; Xu, C.B.; Zhu, C.G.; Yang, Y.C.; Lin, S.; Shi, J.G. Acetylenes and fatty acids from Codonopsis pilosula. Acta Pham. Sin. B 2015, 5, 215–222. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. Jiang, Y.P.; Liu, Y.F.; Guo, Q.L.; Xu, C.B.; Zhu, C.G.; Shi, J.G. Sesquiterpene glycosides from the roots of Codonopsis pilosula. Acta Pharm. Sin. B 2016, 6, 46–54. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. Foo, L.Y.; Karchesy, J.J. Polyphenolic glycosides from Douglas fir inner bark. Phytochemistry 1989, 28, 1237–1240. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  11. Clark-Knowles, K.V.; He, X.H.; Jardine, K.; Coulombe, J.; Dewar-Darch, D.; Caron, A.Z.; Gray, D.A.; McBurney, M.W. Reversible modulation of SIRT1 activity in a mouse strain. PLoS ONE 2017, 12. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  12. Sun, S.W.; Buer, B.C.; Marshab, E.N.G.; Kennedy, R.T. A label-free Sirtuin 1 assay based on droplet electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Anal. Methods 2016, 8, 3458–3465. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. Wang, J.; Zang, W.W.; Liu, J.J.; Zheng, W.P. Bivalent SIRT1 inhibitors. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2017, 27, 180–186. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. Lain, S.; Hollick, J.J.; Campbell, J.; Staples, O.D.; Higgins, M.; Aoubala, M.; McCarthy, A.; Appleyard, V.; Murray, K.E.; Baker, L.; et al. Discovery, in vivo activity, and mechanism of action of a small-molecule p53 activator. Cancer Cell 2008, 13, 454–463. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Green Version]
  15. Shi, Y.N.; Tu, Z.C.; Wang, X.L.; Yan, Y.M.; Fang, P.; Zuo, Z.L.; Hou, B.; Yang, T.H.; Cheng, Y.X. Bioactive compounds from the insect Aspongopus chinensis. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2014, 24, 5164–5169. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  16. Karbasforooshana, H.; Karimib, G. The role of SIRT1 in diabetic cardiomyopathy. Biomed. Pharmacother. 2017, 90, 386–392. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Sample Availability: Samples of the compounds 1 and 2 are available from the authors.
Figure 1. The structures of 1 and 2 from Codonopsis pilosula.
Figure 1. The structures of 1 and 2 from Codonopsis pilosula.
Molecules 23 00180 g001
Figure 2. Key COSY, HMBC and ROESY correlations for 1 and 2.
Figure 2. Key COSY, HMBC and ROESY correlations for 1 and 2.
Molecules 23 00180 g002
Table 1. 1H- (600 MHz) and 13C-NMR (150 MHz) data of 1 and 2 in DMSO-d6 (δ in ppm, J in Hz).
Table 1. 1H- (600 MHz) and 13C-NMR (150 MHz) data of 1 and 2 in DMSO-d6 (δ in ppm, J in Hz).
PositionδHδC δHδC
24.77, d (6.4)81.3 d24.59, d (6.8)81.0 d
33.92, m65.5 d33.88, m65.8 d
42.59, dd (16.3, 4.7)26.7 t42.70, dd (16.2, 4.9)27.6 t
2.45, dd (16.3, 7.1)2.46, dd (16.2, 7.2)
5 157.6 s5 156.1 s
66.34, s94.8 d6 101.3 s
7 155.6 s7 155.5 s
8 97.3 s86.18, s94.4 d
9 154.0 s9 155.3 s
10 102.3 s10 102.8 s
1′ 130.0 s1′ 130.2 s
2′6.75, br. s114.1 d2′6.69, br. s114.4 d
3′ 144.9 s3′ 146.3 s
4′ 145.0 s4′ 146.4 s
5′6.70, d (8.1)115.3 d5′6.68, d (8.1)115.1 d
6′6.62, br. d (8.1)117.5 d6′6.58, br. d (8.1)118.2 d
1′′4.20, d (13.1)45.0 t1′′4.13, d (13.2)47.5 t
4.12, d (13.1)4.08, d (13.2)
2′′3.80, dd (9.3, 5.2)66.6 d2′′3.63, (overlap)67.1 d
3′′2.08, m28.0 t3′′2.17, m28.3 d
1.89, m1.86, m
4′′1.82, m23.1 d4′′1.86, m20.8 d
1.68, m1.68, m
5′′3.30, overlap52.2 t5′′3.25, overlap53.0 t
2.97, m2.87, m
6′′ 169.9 s6′′ 171.3 s
1′′′4.79, d (7.2)101.0 d1′′′4.79, d (7.9)101.1 d
2′′′3.28, overlap72.8 d2′′′3.24, overlap73.1 d
3′′′3.25, overlap76.2 d3′′′3.24, overlap76.4 d
4′′′3.21, overlap69.2 d4′′′3.13, m69.6 d
5′′′3.21, overlap77.2 d5′′′3.24, overlap77.0 d
6′′′3.66, d (11.7)60.4 t6′′′3.64, d (11.7)60.6 t
3.52, dd (11.7, 3.1)3.42, dd (11.7, 5.7)
5-OH9.91, s
3′-OH9.08, s
4′-OH8.86, s

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Qin, F.-Y.; Cheng, L.-Z.; Yan, Y.-M.; Liu, B.-H.; Cheng, Y.-X. Two Novel Proline-Containing Catechin Glucoside from Water-Soluble Extract of Codonopsis pilosula. Molecules 2018, 23, 180.

AMA Style

Qin F-Y, Cheng L-Z, Yan Y-M, Liu B-H, Cheng Y-X. Two Novel Proline-Containing Catechin Glucoside from Water-Soluble Extract of Codonopsis pilosula. Molecules. 2018; 23(1):180.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Qin, Fu-Ying, Li-Zhi Cheng, Yong-Ming Yan, Bao-Hua Liu, and Yong-Xian Cheng. 2018. "Two Novel Proline-Containing Catechin Glucoside from Water-Soluble Extract of Codonopsis pilosula" Molecules 23, no. 1: 180.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop