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Concept: Cichoric acid


Roots of Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea pallida cultivated for four years in a North European climate were analyzed for seasonal variations in the concentrations of lipophilic constituents (alkamides, ketoalkenes- and alkynes) and phenolic acids by harvesting five times during one year to establish the optimal time for harvest. A total of 16 alkamides, two ketoalkenes, two ketoalkynes, and four phenolic acids (echinacoside, cichoric acid, caftaric acid, and chlorogenic acid) were identified in aqueous ethanolic (70%) extracts by LC-MS and quantified by RP-HPLC. The major alkamides in the roots of E. purpurea were at their lowest concentration in the middle of autumn and early winter and the total concentration of lipophilic compounds in E. pallida showed the same pattern. Moreover, all the major phenolic acids in E. purpurea were at their highest concentrations in spring. Optimal harvest time in spring is in contrast to normal growing guidelines and hence, this specific information of seasonal variations in the concentrations of lipophilic and phenolic compounds in E. purpurea and E. pallida is valuable for research, farmers, and producers of medicinal preparations.

Concepts: Concentration, Chemical properties, Harvest, Echinacea, Caffeic acid, Cichoric acid, Phenols


INTRODUCTION: Echinacea preparations are among the most popular herbal remedies worldwide. Although it is generally assigned immune enhancement activities, the effectiveness of Echinacea is highly dependent on the Echinacea species, part of the plant used, the age of the plant, its location and the method of extraction. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the capacity of an artificial neural network (ANN) to analyse thin-layer chromatography (TLC) chromatograms as fingerprint patterns for quantitative estimation of three phenylpropanoid markers (chicoric acid, chlorogenic acid and echinacoside) in commercial Echinacea products. MATERIAL AND METHODS: By applying samples with different weight ratios of marker compounds to the system, a database of chromatograms was constructed. One hundred and one signal intensities in each of the TLC chromatograms were correlated to the amounts of applied echinacoside, chlorogenic acid and chicoric acid using an ANN. RESULTS: The developed ANN correlation was used to quantify the amounts of three marker compounds in Echinacea commercial formulations. The minimum quantifiable level of 63, 154 and 98 ng and the limit of detection of 19, 46 and 29 ng were established for echinacoside, chlorogenic acid and chicoric acid respectively. CONCLUSION: A novel method for quality control of herbal products, based on TLC separation, high-resolution digital plate imaging and ANN data analysis has been developed. The method proposed can be adopted for routine evaluation of the phytochemical variability in Echinacea formulations available in the market. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Chromatography, Echinacea, Caffeic acid, Herbalism, Cichoric acid, Neural network, Artificial neural network, Herb


A rapid and sensitive assay based on ultra high performance liquid chromatography with electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry was established and validated for the simultaneous determination of cichoric acid, chlorogenic acid, quinic acid and caffeic acid in rat plasma after oral administration of Echinacea purpurea extract using butylparaben as the internal standard. Samples were pretreated by liquid-liquid extraction with ethyl acetate. The separations for analytes were performed on an ACQUITY UPLC HSS C18 column (1.8 μm 2.1×100 mm) using a gradient elution programme with acetonitrile/10 mM ammonium acetate (pH 5.6) at a flow rate of 0.3 mL/min. The analytes were detected by multiple reaction monitoring mode with negative electrospray ionization. The lower limit of quantification of each analyte was not higher than 10.85 ng/mL. The relative standard deviation of the intra-day and inter-day precisions was less than 14.69%. The relative errors of accuracies were in the range of -13.80 to 14.91%. The mean recoveries for extraction recovery and matrix effect were higher than 80.79 and 89.98%, respectively. The method validation results demonstrated that the proposed method was sensitive, specific and reliable, which was successfully applied to the pharmacokinetic study of four components after oral administration of Echinacea purpurea extract. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography, Analytical chemistry, Echinacea, Caffeic acid, Cichoric acid, Chlorogenic acid


Chicoric acid (CA), a natural phenolic acid extracted from chicory and the echinacea (purple coneflower) plant (Echinacea purpurea), has been regarded as a nutraceutical that has powerful antioxidant and antiobesity activities. We investigated the inhibitory effects of CA on systemic inflammation-induced neuroinflammation, amyloidogenesis, and cognitive impairment. C57BL/6J mice were treated with 0.05% CA in the drinking water for 45 d. The mice were then treated by intraperitoneal injection of LPS (lipopolysaccharide). It was found that CA prevented LPS-induced memory impairment and neuronal loss through behavioral tests and histological examination. Furthermore, amyloidogenesis in the CNS was detected. The results showed that CA prevented LPS-induced increases in β-amyloid (1-42 specific) (Aβ1-42) accumulation, levels of amyloid precursor protein, and neuronal β-secretase 1 (BACE1), as well as the equilibrium cholinergic system in mouse brain. Moreover, CA down-regulated LPS-induced glial overactivation by inhibiting the MAPK and NF-κB pathway. Consequently, CA reduced the levels of NF-κB transcriptionally regulated inflammatory mediators and cytokines such as iNOS, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), IL-1β, and TNF-α in both mouse brain and BV2 microglial cells. These results demonstrated that CA alleviated memory impairment and amyloidogenesis triggered by LPS through suppressing NF-κB transcriptional pathway, suggesting that CA might be a plausible therapeutic intervention for neuroinflammation-related diseases such as Alzheimer disease.-Liu, Q., Chen, Y., Shen, C., Xiao, Y., Wang, Y., Liu, Z., Liu, X. Chicoric acid supplementation prevents systemic inflammation-induced memory impairment and amyloidogenesis via inhibition of NF-κB.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Nervous system, Neuron, Neurotransmitter, Glial cell, Echinacea, Cichoric acid, Microglia


Chicoric acid (CA) is an active derivative of caffeic acid, which is naturally present in many medicinal plants and vegetables. In the present study, the metabolic profile of CA was determined in rat plasma, urine and feces and was subsequently used to propose the metabolic pathways of CA. CA (100 mg/kg) was orally administered to rats by gastric intubation. Then, the plasma, urine and feces samples were collected and treated with methanol and acetonitrile (1:1, V/V) to precipitate the proteins. The pretreated samples were separated by ultra performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) equipped with an HSS T3 column (2.1 mm × 100 mm I.D., 1.7 μm) and with quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (Q-TOF-MS) as the detection method. A total of nineteen metabolites were detected and identified based on the characteristics of their deprotonated ions in the plasma, urine and feces samples. The results revealed that the metabolism of CA followed a number of known in-vivo mammalian biotransformation pathways including hydrolysis, reduction, methylation, sulfation, glucuronidation, acetylation, isomerization and deoxygenation.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Mass spectrometry, Chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography, Caffeic acid, Cichoric acid, Time-of-flight


Glyoxylic acid is a tartaric acid degradation product formed in model wine solutions containing iron and its production is greatly increased by exposure to UV-visible light. In this study, the combined effect of sulfur dioxide, caffeic acid, pH and temperature on the light-induced (⩾300nm) production of glyoxylic acid in model wine containing tartaric acid and iron was investigated using a Box-Behnken experimental design and response surface methodology (RSM). Glyoxylic acid produced in the irradiated model wine was present in free and hydrogen sulfite adduct forms and the measured total, free and percentage free glyoxylic acid values were modeled using RSM. Sulfur dioxide significantly decreased the total amount of glyoxylic acid produced, but could not prevent its production, while caffeic acid showed no significant impact. The interaction between pH and temperature was significant, with low pH values and low temperatures giving rise to higher levels of total glyoxylic acid.

Concepts: Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, PH, Cichoric acid, Wine, Sulfur dioxide, Sulfite, Factorial experiment


The extraction yield, total phenols, caffeic acid derivatives (CAD), and antioxidant properties of 50% ethanolic Echinacea purpurea flower extract were determined. The in vitro inhibitory effects of 50% ethanolic extract and CAD on α-amylase, α-glucosidase, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) linked with type 2 diabetes were also investigated. The extraction yield, total phenols, and total CAD of the extract were 27.04%, 195.69 mg CAE/g and 78.42 mg/g, respectively. Cichoric acid (56.03 mg/g) was the predominant CAD compound in the extract. The extract exhibited good antioxidant properties. The extract and CAD inhibited α-amylase, α-glucosidase, and ACE activities in a concentration-dependent manner. Among the tested samples, chlorogenic acid, and caffeic acid (IC50 of 1.71-1.81 mg/mL) had the highest α-amylase inhibitory activity, cichoric acid (IC50 of 0.28 mg/mL) showed higher α-glucosidase inhibitory activity. Both chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid (IC50 of 0.11-0.14 mg/mL) demonstrated higher ACE-inhibitory activity. The in vitro results suggest that E. purpurea extract and CAD have good potential for managing hyperglycemia and hypertension. Overall, the data suggest it is a choice for developing antihyperglycemia and antihypertension compounds from field-grown E. purpurea.

Concepts: Diabetes mellitus, Echinacea, Caffeic acid, Cichoric acid, Chlorogenic acid


Ocimum basilicum and Ocimum gratissimum (Lamiaceae) are used to treat diabetes mellitus in Africa. In a previous work, we identified chicoric acid as a hypoglycemic substance in O. gratissimum. This study aims to compare the chemical metabolite profile and the hypoglycemic activity of unfractionated aqueous extracts from leaves of both Lamiaceae species. The metabolite composition of OB and OG decoctions (10% w/v) was analyzed using HPLC-DAD and NMR tools. Chicoric acid showed to be the major phenolic in both extracts, besides caftaric, caffeic, and rosmarinic acids; nevertheless, there is approximately three times more of this substance in OG. From 1D- and 2D-NMR analyses, 19 substances were identified in OB, while 12 in OG. The in vivo acute hypoglycemic activity of the extracts was assessed intraperitoneally in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic mice. The doses of 100 and 200 mg/kg of both extracts significantly reduced their glycemia, compared to controls (P < 0.05). OB was a little more effective than OG, despite the lower content of chicoric acid in OB. This result strongly suggests that components other than chicoric acid contribute to the hypoglycemic activity of the two extracts. Despite the abundance of caffeic and rosmarinic acids in OB, their hypoglycemic activity observed at 8.3 μmol/kg was low. This is the first chemical profile of crude extracts from Ocimum species by NMR. Our findings confirmed the potential of both species in DM treatment in spite of marked differences in their chemical composition. However, long-term studies are necessary in order to identify the most promising of the two species for the development of an herbal medicine.

Concepts: Diabetes mellitus, Proton, Caffeic acid, Cichoric acid, Lamiaceae, Basil, Eugenol, Ocimum


Chicoric acid has recently become a hot research topic due to its potent bioactivities. However, there are few studies relevant to this acid’s pharmacokinetic characteristics and the pharmacological activities of its metabolites. To compare the abilities of chicoric acid and its metabolites in scavenging free radicals and their effects on the viability of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes, an in vitro study of the metabolism of chicoric acid in rat liver microsomes was performed using liquid tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). The results indicated that caffeic acid and caftaric acid were the hepatic phase I metabolites of chicoric acid. These three compounds had strong capacities for scavenging free radicals and had been demonstrated to increase intracellular ROS levels in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes, thereby reducing cell vitality. Finally, the pharmacological activities of chicoric acid were significantly stronger than those of its metabolites within a certain concentration range.

Concepts: Ammonia, Mass spectrometry, Glycogen, In vitro, Caffeic acid, Cichoric acid, Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization, Tandem mass spectrometry


Molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) was synthesized and applied for the extraction of chicoric acid from Chicory herb (Chicorium intybus L.). A computational study was developed to find a suitable template to functional monomer molar ratio for MIP preparations. The molar ratio was chosen based on the comparison of the binding energy of the complexes between the template and functional monomers. Based on the computational results, eight different polymers were prepared using chicoric acid as the template. The MIPs were synthesized in a non-covalent approach via thermal free-radical polymerization, using two different polymerization methods, bulk and suspension. Batch rebinding experiments were performed to evaluate the binding properties of the imprinted polymers. The best results were obtained with a MIP prepared using bulk polymerization with 4-vinylpyridine (4-VP) as the functional monomer and ethylene glycol dimethacrylate (EGDMA) as the crosslinker with a molar ratio of 1:4:20. The best MIP showed selective binding ability toward chicoric acid in the presence of the template’s structural analogues, caffeic acid, caftaric acid and chlorogenic acid.

Concepts: Polymer, Polymer chemistry, Monomer, Caffeic acid, Cichoric acid, Ethylene glycol, Polymerization, Chlorogenic acid