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Molecules. 2012 Nov 13;17(11):13457-72. doi: 10.3390/molecules171113457.

Antioxidant ability and mechanism of rhizoma Atractylodes macrocephala.

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School of Chinese Herbal Medicine, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou 510006, China.


Rhizoma Atractylodes macrocephala (AM) has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for about 2,000 years. In the study, we firstly determined the antioxidant levels of five AM extracts by •OH-scavenging, •O2−-scavenging, Fe2+-chelating, Cu2+-chelating, DPPH·-scavenging, and ABTS+·-scavenging assays. After measurement of the chemical contents in five AM extracts, we quantitatively analyzed the correlations between antioxidant levels and chemical contents. It was observed that total phenolics and total flavonoids had significant positive correlations with antioxidant levels (R = 0.685 and 0.479, respectively). In contrast, total sugars and total saponins presented lower correlations with antioxidant levels (R=−0.272 and 0.244, respectively). It means that antioxidant activity of AM should be attributed to total phenolics (including phenolic acids and flavonoids), and not total sugars and total saponins. Further analysis indicated that phenolic acids exhibited higher R values with radical-scavenging assays (R=0.32–1.00), while flavonoids showed higher R values with metal-chelating assays (R=0.86 and 0.90). In conclusion, AM exerts its antioxidant effect through metal-chelating, and radical-scavenging which is via donating hydrogen atom and donating electron. Its metal-chelating may result from flavonoids, while its radical-scavenging can be attributed to phenolic acids, especially caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and protocatechuic acid.

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