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J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 5;53(20):7654-60.

Determination of saponins in aerial parts of barrel medic (Medicago truncatula) by liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization/mass spectrometry.

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Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation, State Research Institute, ul. Czartoryskich 8, 24-100 Pulawy, Poland.


Triterpene saponins from aerial parts of Medicago truncatula cv. Jemalong A-17, M. truncatula Gaertn.var. longispina Urb., and M. truncatula Gaertn. var. truncatula were profiled and quantified using reverse-phase liquid chromatography with on-line photodiode array detection and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (LC-PDA/ESI/MS/MS). The determination was based on standard curves obtained for the 18 available saponin standards, previously isolated from Jemalong A-17. Aerial parts of all three subspecies contained 17 saponins previously identified and also a substantial amount of astragaloside VIII (3-GlcA-Xyl-Rha soyasapogenol B), not previously reported in M. truncatula. The compositions of saponin mixtures were very similar in the three subspecies with three dominant groups, recognized as zanhic acid, medicagenic acid, and soyasapogenol glycosides. Relative proportions of these three groups were also similar in the three subspecies: var. longispina had 49.5, 48.1, and 2.4%; var. truncatula, 41.5, 53.4, and 5.1%; and Jemalong A-17, 42.1, 56.6, and 1.3% of zanhic acid, medicagenic acid, and soyasapogenol glycosides, respectively. Jemalong A-17 had 30% lower total content of saponins as compared to M. truncatula var. longispina and M. truncatula var. truncatula; in relation to the dry matter, var. longispina contained 0.22%, var. truncatula, 0.22%, and Jemalong A-17, 0.15% dry matter of saponins. If one takes into consideration that this determination was performed on spring-collected samples, it can be concluded that the concentration of saponins in M. truncatula is similar to the concentration in alfalfa (Medicago sativa); the proportions of the three groups of saponins in these species are slightly different from those found in alfalfa, having a higher content of zanhic acid glycosides.

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