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Special Issue "State-of-the-Art Analytical Technologies for Natural Products"

A special issue of Molecules (ISSN 1420-3049). This special issue belongs to the section "Natural Products Chemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. De-An Guo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Shanghai Research Center for Modernization of Traditional Chinese Medicine, National Engineering Laboratory for TCM Standardization Technology, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 501 Haike Road, Shanghai 201203, China
Interests: active ingredients of traditionnal chinese medicines; quality standards of traditionnal chinese medicines; biotransformation of natural products
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Natural products cover a wide range of applications including new drug discovery and human healthcare systems. However, natural products represent a multifaceted complex system that may contribute to a medicine’s putative activity, and the complex chemical compositions present a series of hurdles to the exploration of the chemical basis, quality evaluation and control, understanding of the mechanisms of actions, the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) process in vivo, etc. With the development of state-of-the-art analytical technologies, these difficulities have been partially overcome.

 Therefore, this Special Issue aims to highlight recent advances in all aspects of state-of-the-art analytical technologies and methods, such as sample preparation, separation and detection and data processing techniques, as well as related applications of natural products. The development of tandem techniques (LC-MS, GC-MS, LC-NMR, etc.) in clarifying the chemical basis, chromatographic fingerprint, spectroscopic fingerprint, multicomponent determination and plant metabolomics in quality evaluation and control, online biological evaluations, drug metabolism, and pharmacokinetics of natural products are all welcome. Submissions of original research articles, short communications, perspectives, and comprehensive review articles are all welcome too.

Prof. Dr. De-an Guo
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Molecules is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • natural products
  • chemical basis
  • quality control
  • mechanisms of actions
  • chromatographic fingerprint
  • tandem techniques

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
A UPLC-DAD-Based Bio-Screening Assay for the Evaluation of the Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitory Potential of Plant Extracts and Compounds: Pyrroquinazoline Alkaloids from Adhatoda vasica as a Case Study
Molecules 2021, 26(22), 6971; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26226971 - 18 Nov 2021
Viewed by 396
Abstract
Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) plays a crucial role in regulating blood pressure in the human body. Identification of potential ACE inhibitors from medicinal plants supported the idea of repurposing these medicinal plants against hypertension. A method based on ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) coupled [...] Read more.
Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) plays a crucial role in regulating blood pressure in the human body. Identification of potential ACE inhibitors from medicinal plants supported the idea of repurposing these medicinal plants against hypertension. A method based on ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) coupled with a diode array detector (DAD) was used for the rapid screening of plant extracts and purified compounds to determine their ACE inhibitory activity. Hippuryl-histidiyl-leucine (HHL) was used as a substrate, which is converted into hippuric acid (HA) by the action of ACE. A calibration curve of the substrate HHL was developed with the linear regression 0.999. The limits of detection and quantification of this method were found to be 0.134 and 0.4061 mM, respectively. Different parameters of ACE inhibitory assay were optimized, including concentration, incubation time and temperature. The ACE inhibition potential of Adhatoda vasica (methanolic-aqueous extract) and its isolated pyrroquinazoline alkaloids, vasicinol (1), vasicine (2) and vasicinone (3) was evaluated. Compounds 13 were characterized by various spectroscopic techniques. The IC50 values of vasicinol (1), vasicine (2) and vasicinone (3) were found to be 6.45, 2.60 and 13.49 mM, respectively. Molecular docking studies of compounds 13 were also performed. Among these compounds, vasicinol (1) binds as effectively as captopril, a standard drug of ACE inhibition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Analytical Technologies for Natural Products)
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Article
An Integrated Mutually Oriented “Chemical Profiling–Pharmaceutical Effect” Strategy for Screening Discriminating Markers of Underlying Hepatoprotective Effects to Distinguish Garden-Cultivated from Mountain-Cultivated Ginseng
Molecules 2021, 26(18), 5456; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26185456 - 08 Sep 2021
Viewed by 480
Abstract
Garden-cultivated Ginseng (GG) and mountain-cultivated Ginseng (MG) both belong to Panax Ginseng C. A. Meyer. However, the effective substances which can be used to distinguish GG from MG remain obscure. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to screen for discriminating markers that [...] Read more.
Garden-cultivated Ginseng (GG) and mountain-cultivated Ginseng (MG) both belong to Panax Ginseng C. A. Meyer. However, the effective substances which can be used to distinguish GG from MG remain obscure. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to screen for discriminating markers that can assist in the correct identification of GG and MG. HPLC Q-TOF/MS and various chemometrics methods were used to analyze the chemical profiles of 13 batches of Ginseng and to explore the characteristic constituents of both GG and MG. The hepatocyte-protecting effects of GG and MG were investigated through a paclitaxel-induced liver injury model. Through a combination of correlation analysis and bioinformatic techniques, markers for differentiation between GG and MG were ascertained. A total of 40 and 41 compounds were identified in GG and MG, respectively, and 15 characteristic ingredients contributed significantly to the discrimination of GG from MG. Correlation analysis and network pharmacology were applied and ginsenosides Rg1, Re, Rb1, Rc, Rb2, and Rg3 were found to be discriminating markers of GG and MG. Six markers for the identification of GG and MG were screened out by a step-wise mutually oriented “chemical profiling–pharmaceutical effect” correlation strategy, which is of great significance for future quality assessment of Ginseng products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Analytical Technologies for Natural Products)
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Article
Chemical Variations among Shengmaisan-Based TCM Patent Drugs by Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography Coupled with Hybrid Quadrupole Orbitrap Mass Spectrometry
Molecules 2021, 26(13), 4000; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26134000 - 30 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 791
Abstract
Shengmaisan (SMS) is a famous traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) formula to treat coronary heart diseases. It has been developed into several TCM patent drugs to meet the demands of different patients. In this study, a research strategy was proposed to reveal the chemical [...] Read more.
Shengmaisan (SMS) is a famous traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) formula to treat coronary heart diseases. It has been developed into several TCM patent drugs to meet the demands of different patients. In this study, a research strategy was proposed to reveal the chemical variations among four SMS-based patent drugs, including Shengmai Oral Solution (Shengmaiyin, SMY), Shengmai Capsule (Shengmai Jiaonang, SMJN), Yiqi Fumai Injection (YQFMI), and Yiqi Fumai Capsule (Yiqi Fumai Jiaonang, YQJN). Firstly, 227 compounds were tentatively identified using an Orbitrap-MS in the full scan/dd-MS2 mode. Secondly, untargeted metabolomics analysis suggested that ginsenosides, steroidal saponins, and lignans were the main types of differential compounds for the four patent drugs. Finally, the contents of 25 compounds were simultaneously determined in 30 batches of samples in the parallel reaction monitoring (PRM) mode. Partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) revealed the contents of ginsenosides Re, Rg1, Rb1, Ro, and Rg3, and schisandrin showed the highest intergroup variations. These compounds were chemical markers to differentiate the SMS-based patent drugs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Analytical Technologies for Natural Products)
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Article
Activity Components from Gynostemma pentaphyllum for Preventing Hepatic Fibrosis and of Its Molecular Targets by Network Pharmacology Approach
Molecules 2021, 26(10), 3006; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26103006 - 18 May 2021
Viewed by 849
Abstract
Hepatic fibrosis would develop into cirrhosis or cancer without treating. Hence, it is necessary to study the mechanism and prevention methods for hepatic fibrosis. Gynostemma pentaphyllum is a traditional medicinal material with a high medicinal and health value. In this study, nineteen compounds [...] Read more.
Hepatic fibrosis would develop into cirrhosis or cancer without treating. Hence, it is necessary to study the mechanism and prevention methods for hepatic fibrosis. Gynostemma pentaphyllum is a traditional medicinal material with a high medicinal and health value. In this study, nineteen compounds obtained from G. pentaphyllum were qualitative and quantitative by HPLC-FT-ICR MS and HPLC-UV, respectively. Among them, the total content of 19 gypenosides accurately quantified reaches 72.21 mg/g and their anti-proliferation against t-HSC/Cl-6 cells indicated compound 19 performed better activity (IC50: 28.1 ± 2.0 μM) than the other compounds. Further network pharmacology study demonstrated that compound 19 mainly plays an anti-fibrosis role by regulating the EGFR signaling pathway, and the PI3K–Akt signaling pathway. Overall, the verification result indicated that compound 19 appeared to be nontoxic to LO2, was able to modulate the PI3K/Akt signal, led to subG1 cells cycle arrest and the activation of mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis of t-HSC/Cl-6 cells for anti-hepatic fibrosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Analytical Technologies for Natural Products)
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Article
Multiple Roles of Black Raspberry Anthocyanins Protecting against Alcoholic Liver Disease
Molecules 2021, 26(8), 2313; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26082313 - 16 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 799
Abstract
This study aimed to investigate the protective effect of black raspberry anthocyanins (BRAs) against acute and subacute alcoholic liver disease (ALD). Network analysis and docking study were carried out to understand the potential mechanism. Thereafter, the serum biochemical parameters and liver indexes were [...] Read more.
This study aimed to investigate the protective effect of black raspberry anthocyanins (BRAs) against acute and subacute alcoholic liver disease (ALD). Network analysis and docking study were carried out to understand the potential mechanism. Thereafter, the serum biochemical parameters and liver indexes were measured, the histopathological changes of the liver were analyzed in vivo. The results showed that all tested parameters were ameliorated after the administration of BRAs with alcohol. Meanwhile, there was increased protein expression of NF-κB and TGF-β in extracted livers, which was associated with hepatitis and hepatic fibrosis. Furthermore, BRAs and cyanidin-3-O-rutinoside exhibited cytotoxic effects on t-HSC/Cl-6, HepG2, and Hep3B and induced the apoptosis of HepG2 cells; downregulated the protein expression level of Bcl-2; upregulated the level of Bax; and promoted the release of cytochrome C, cleaved caspase-9, cleaved caspase-3, and cleaved PARP in HepG2 cells. In addition, the antioxidant activity of BRAs was tested, and the chemical components were analyzed by FT-ICR MS. The results proved that BRAs exert preventive effect on ALD through the antioxidant and apoptosis pathways. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Analytical Technologies for Natural Products)
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Article
Hair Growth Promoting Activity of Cedrol Nanoemulsion in C57BL/6 Mice and Its Bioavailability
Molecules 2021, 26(6), 1795; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26061795 - 23 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 652
Abstract
As the main component of Platycladus orientalis, cedrol has known germinal activity. A range of cedrol formulations have been developed to prevent hair-loss, but compliance remains key issues. In this study, we prepared cedrol nanoemulsion (CE-NE) and determined the particle size and [...] Read more.
As the main component of Platycladus orientalis, cedrol has known germinal activity. A range of cedrol formulations have been developed to prevent hair-loss, but compliance remains key issues. In this study, we prepared cedrol nanoemulsion (CE-NE) and determined the particle size and PDI (polydispersion coefficient), investigated the hair growth activity and studied the bioavailability in vitro and in vivo. Results showed that the average particle size of CE-NE is 14.26 ± 0.16 nm, and the PDI value is 0.086 ± 0.019. In vitro drug release investigation and drug release kinetics analysis showed release profile of CE from nanoparticles demonstrates the preferred partition of CE in buffer pH 4.0, the release profile of CE-NE showed a first-order kinetics reaching around 36.7% after 6 h at 37 °C. We artificially depilated the back hair of C57BL/6 mice and compared the efficacy of a designed cedrol nanoemulsion to an existing ointment group. The hair follicles were imaged and quantified using a digital photomicrograph. The results showed that compared with the ointment, CE-NE had positive effects on hair growth, improved drug solubility. Compared with the ointment and 2% minoxidil groups, 50 mg/mL CE-NE led to more robust hair growth. Pharmacokinetics analysis showed that the AUC0–t of CE-NE was 4-fold higher than that of the ointment group, confirming that the bioavailability of the nanoemulsion was greater than that of the ointment. CE-NE also significantly reduced the hair growth time of model mice and significantly increased the growth rate of hair follicles. In conclusion, these data suggest that the nanoemulsion significantly improved the pharmacokinetic properties and hair growth effects cedrol, enhancing its efficacy in vitro and in vivo. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Analytical Technologies for Natural Products)
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Article
Direct Flavonoid-Focused Chemical Comparison among Three Epimedium Plants by Online Liquid Extraction–High Performance Liquid Chromatography–Tandem Mass Spectrometry
Molecules 2021, 26(6), 1520; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26061520 - 10 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 679
Abstract
It is usually a tedious task to profile the chemical composition of a given herbal medicine (HM) using high performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) due to the time-consuming sample preparation and laborious post-acquisition data processing procedures. Even worse, some labile compounds may [...] Read more.
It is usually a tedious task to profile the chemical composition of a given herbal medicine (HM) using high performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) due to the time-consuming sample preparation and laborious post-acquisition data processing procedures. Even worse, some labile compounds may face degradation risks when exposed to organic solvents for a relatively long period. As one of the most popular HMs, the promising therapeutic benefits of Epimedii Herba (Chinese name: Yinyanghuo) are well defined; however, the chemical profile, and in particular those flavonoids that have been claimed to be responsible for the efficacy, remains largely unknown. Attempts are devoted here to achieve direct LC–MS measurement and efficient post-acquisition data processing, and chemome comparison among three original sources of Epimedii Herba, such as Epimedium sagittatum (Esa), E. pubescens (Epu), and E. koreanum (Eko) was employed to illustrate the strategy utility. A home-made online liquid extraction (OLE) module was introduced at the front of the analytical column to comprehensively transfer the compounds from raw materials onto the LC–MS instrument. A mass defect filtering approach was programmed to efficiently mine the massive LC–MS dataset after which a miniature database was built involving all chemical information of flavonoids from the genus Epimedium to draw a pentagonal frame to rapidly capture potential quasi-molecular ions (mainly [M–H]). A total of 99 flavonoids (66 in Esa, 84 in Eko, and 66 in Epu) were captured, and structurally annotated by summarizing the mass fragmentation pathways from the mass spectrometric data of authentic compounds and an in-house data library as well. Noteworthily, neutral loss of 144 Da was firstly assigned to the neutral cleavage of rhamnosyl residues. Significant species-differences didn’t occur among their chemical patterns. The current study proposed a robust strategy enabling rapid chemical profiling of, but not limited to, HMs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Analytical Technologies for Natural Products)
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