Phytochemical extracts are highly complex chemical mixtures. In the context of an increasing demand for phytopharmaceuticals, assessment of the phytochemical equivalence of extraction procedures is of utmost importance. Compared to routine analytical methods, comprehensive metabolite profiling has pushed forward the concept of phytochemical equivalence. In this study, an untargeted metabolomic approach was used to cross-compare four marketed extracts from Serenoa repens
obtained with three different extraction processes: ethanolic, hexanic and sCO2
(supercritical carbon dioxide). Our approach involved a biphasic extraction of native compounds followed by liquid chromatography coupled to a high-resolution mass spectrometry based metabolomic workflow. Our results showed significant differences in the contents of major and minor compounds according to the extraction solvent used. The analyses showed that ethanolic extracts were supplemented in phosphoglycerides and polyphenols, hexanic extracts had higher amounts of free fatty acids and minor compounds, and sCO2
samples contained more glycerides. The discriminant model in this study could predict the extraction solvent used in commercial samples and highlighted the specific biomarkers of each process. This metabolomic survey allowed the authors to assess the phytochemical content of extracts and finished products of S. repens
and unequivocally established that sCO2
, hexanic and ethanolic extracts are not chemically equivalent and are therefore unlikely to be pharmacologically equivalent.
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