Analysis of phenolic compounds and radical scavenging activity of Echinacea spp.J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2004 Apr 16; 35(2):289-301.JP
The aim of this study was to set up and validate an RP-LC method with DAD-detection to quantify caffeic acid derivatives in various Echinacea spp. Samples were extracted with 80% methanol. The analyses were carried out on a Lichrospher RP-18 column (125 mm x 4 mm i.d., 5 microm), with a mobile phase gradient, which increases the acetonitrile level in a phosphoric acid solution (0.1%). The flow rate was 1.5 ml/min. Detection was set at 330 nm. This method allowed the identification and quantification of caftaric acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, cynarin, echinacoside and cichoric acid in Echinacea roots and derivatives. The total phenolic content was 10.49 mg/g for E. angustifolia, 17.83 mg/g for E. pallida and 23.23 mg/g for E. purpurea. Among Echinacea commercial herbal medicines, a certain variability in the concentrations of phenolic compounds was observed. The radical scavenging activity of Echinacea methanolic extracts was evaluated in vitro with a spectrophotometric method based on the reduction of an alcoholic 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH*) radical solution at 517 nm in the presence of a hydrogen donating antioxidant. As for pure compounds, echinacoside had the highest capacity to quench DPPH* radicals (EC50 = 6.6 microM), while caftaric acid had the lowest (EC50 = 20.5 microM). The average EC50 values for E. purpurea, E. pallida and E. angustifolia were 134, 167 and 231 microg/ml, respectively. The radical scavenging activity of Echinacea root extracts reflected their phenolic composition. The results indicate that Echinacea roots and derivatives are a good source of natural antioxidants and could be used to prevent free-radical-induced deleterious effects.