Investigation of the Variability of Alkaloids in Buxus sempervirens L. Using Multivariate Data Analysis of LC/MS Profiles.Molecules. 2021 Dec 23; 27(1)M
Buxus sempervirens L. is a common ornamental plant in southern and central Europe, and has been used ethopharmacologically against a wide variety of diseases due to it containing nor-triterpene alkaloids of the nor-cycloartane type. Recently, we demonstrated the interesting antiprotozoal potential of some of these compounds. To characterize the temporal variability in the alkaloid profile of two different varieties and their leaves and twigs, 30 different extracts of B. sempervirens were evaluated by Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography/positive Mode-Electrospray Ionization Quadrupole Time-of-Flight-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (UHPLC/+ESI-QqTOF-MS/MS). The analytical profiles were thoroughly investigated by various methods of multivariate data analysis (MVDA). A principal component analysis (PCA) model elucidates the seasonal variation in the phytochemical composition of B. sempervirens var. arborescens and suffruticosa along with differences between the varieties. Analysis of a volcano plot illustrated the differences between the two organs, the leaf and twig. Eighteen compounds were highlighted by the models as constituents of the plant characteristic for a season, variety or organ. These compounds were dereplicated based on their chromatographic and +ESI-QqTOF-MS and -MS/MS data. In addition, mass spectral fragmentation pathways for already known alkaloids as well as new natural products could be postulated for the first time. In conclusion, the MVDA models give detailed information on the temporal variability in the alkaloid profile of two different varieties and their organs (leaf vs. twig) of B. sempervirens. Thus, the results of this study allow, e.g., the identification of characteristic compounds for the different varieties, plant organs, seasons, and the optimal harvesting time for the isolation of particular Buxus-alkaloids of interest for subsequent studies.