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Phytochemistry. 2006 Nov;67(21):2380-91. Epub 2006 Sep 7.

Comparative phytochemical characterization of three Rhodiola species.

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  • 1Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


In comparison to the well-recognized adaptogenic herb Rhodiola rosea, phytochemical constituents of two other Rhodiola species (R. heterodonta and R. semenovii) were elucidated and characterized. Two major phytochemical groups; phenolic and/or cyanogenic glycosides and proanthocyanidins, were isolated and identified in the three species. Chemical similarities among the three species were observed; however, each species displayed differences in phytochemical constituents. R. heterodonta contained a newly detected phenylethanoid glycoside, heterodontoside, in addition to the known compounds tyrosol, viridoside, salidroside, and rhodiocyanoside A. Both R. heterodonta and R. rosea contained phenylethanoid/propanoid compounds that were not detected in R. semenovii. For R. semenovii, the cyanogenic glucosides rhodiocyanoside A and lotaustralin were detected. Although the three species have proanthocyanidins composed of (-)-epigallocatechin and its 3-O-gallate esters in common, the degree of polymerization greatly differed between them. In contrast to R. heterodonta and R. semenovii, R. rosea has higher molecular weight polymeric proanthocyanidins. This study resulted in the identification and isolation of phytochemical constituents for direct cross-comparison between three Rhodiola species of medicinal and pharmacological value.

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