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J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2010 Jan 20;51(2):358-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2009.03.035. Epub 2009 Apr 7.

MALDI-TOF MS analysis of plant proanthocyanidins.

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Instituto de Fermentaciones Industriales (CSIC), Juan de la Cierva 3, 28006 Madrid, Spain.


Proanthocyanidins or condensed tannins are among the most abundant polyphenols compounds in our diet and may play a key role in the prevention of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. These antioxidants are widely distributed in the plant kingdom both in food plants and in non-food plants. The biological activity of plant proanthocyanidins depends on their chemical structure and concentration. However, due to their structural diversity and complexity, the qualitative and quantitative analysis of proanthocyanidins is a difficult task. Mass spectrometry has enabled great advances in the characterization of plant proanthocyanidins. Among these techniques, MALDI-TOF MS has proved to be highly suited for the analysis of highly polydisperse and heterogeneous proanthocyanidins. The objective of the present paper was to assess the potential, limitations and future challenges of the analysis of plant proanthocyanidins by MALDI-TOF MS techniques. Firstly, the fundamental of this technique, including modes of operation, advantages and limitations, as well as quantitative and qualitative operations, have been summarized. Applications of MALDI-TOF analysis to plant proanthocyanidins reported in the last decade (1997-2008) have been extensively covered, including the sample preparation protocols and conditions used for proanthocyanidin analysis, as well as the main findings regarding the determination of the structural features of different plant proanthocyanidin types (procyanidins, propelargonidins, prodelphinidins, profisetinidins and prorobinetinidins). Finally, attempts in the assessment of the molecular weight distribution of proanthocyanidins by MALDI-TOF are described.

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