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J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Sep 21;53(19):7408-14.

Isolation and identification of flavonoids in licorice and a study of their inhibitory effects on tyrosinase.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Xiamen University, China.


Five different flavonoids were isolated from licorice after multistep chromatographic fractionation. The aim was to identify and characterize active components in licorice responsible for antibrowning activities and to seek new tyrosinase inhibitors for applications as antibrowning and depigmenting agents in the food and cosmetic industries. The isolated flavonoids were identified as liquiritin, licuraside, isoliquiritin, liquiritigenin (from Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.), and licochalcone A (from Glycyrrhiza inflate Bat.) by UV, MS, (1)H NMR, and (13)C NMR analyses. The inhibitory potencies and capacities of these flavonoids toward monophenolase activity of mushroom tyrosinase were investigated. The IC(50) values of licuraside, isoliquiritin, and licochalcone A for monophenolase activity were 0.072, 0.038, and 0.0258 mM, respectively. A study of the mechanisms of monophenolase inhibition by these flavonoids indicated that they are all competitive inhibitors. Different from the above flavonoids, no inhibitory activity was observed for liquiritin, whereas liquiritigenin activated the monophenolase activity as a cofactor. The inhibitory effect of licuraside, isoliquiritin, and licochalcone A on diphenolase activity with l-DOPA as the substrate was much lower than those with l-tyrosine. Results suggest that licuraside, isoliquiritin, and licochalcone A have the high potential to be further developed into effective antibrowning and depigmenting agents.

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