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Phytochemistry. 2006 Feb;67(4):409-17. Epub 2006 Jan 6.

Altitudinal variation of secondary metabolite profiles in flowering heads of Arnica montana cv. ARBO.

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Institut für Pharmazie, Abteilung Pharmakognosie, Universität Innsbruck, Innrain 52, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.


The altitudinal variation on the contents of secondary metabolites in flowering heads of Arnica montana was assessed. Plants of A. montana cultivar ARBO were grown in nine experimental plots at altitudes between 590 and 2230m at Mount Patscherkofel near Innsbruck/Austria. The total contents of sesquiterpene lactones and flavonoids were not positively correlated with the altitude of the growing site. However, the proportion of flavonoids with vicinal free hydroxy groups in ring B to flavonoids lacking this feature significantly increased with elevation. Additionally, the level of caffeic acid derivatives also positively correlated with the altitude of the growing site. In particular amounts of 1-methoxyoxaloyl-3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid significantly increased in higher sites and samples from the summit region contained 85% more of this compound than samples from valley sites. These results are discussed with regards to chemosystematic studies comparing samples collected in different altitudes as well as in the light of a UV-B protective and radical scavenging function of phenolics and their significance for plant life in environments with elevated UV-B radiation.

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