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Acta Biochim Pol. 2013;60(4):865-70.

Arbutin production via biotransformation of hydroquinone in in vitro cultures of Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Botany, Jagiellonian University, Collegium Medicum, Kraków, Poland.


Arbutin (hydroquinone β-D-glucoside) is a compound of plant origin possessing valuable therapeutic (urinary tract disinfection) and cosmetic (skin whitening) properties, which can be obtained from in vitro cultures of plants belonging to different taxa via biotransformation of exogenously supplemented hydroquinone. Agitating cultures of Aronia melanocarpa were maintained on the Murashige and Skoog medium containing growth regulators: the cytokinin - BAP (6-benzylaminopurine), 2 mg/l and the auxin NAA (α-naphthaleneacetic acid), 2 mg/l. The biomass was cultured for 2 weeks and then hydroquinone was supplemented at the following doses: 96, 144, 192, 288 and 384 mg/l either undivided or divided into two or three portions added at 24-hour intervals. The content of the reaction product - arbutin, was determined using an HPLC method in methanolic extracts from biomass and lyophilized medium samples collected 24 hours after the addition of the last precursor dose. The total amounts of arbutin were very diverse, from 2.71 to 8.27 g/100g d.w. The production of arbutin rose with increasing hydroquinone concentration. The maximum content of the product was observed after hydroquinone addition at 384 mg/l divided into two portions. Biotransformation efficiency also varied widely, ranging from 37.04% do 73.80%. The identity of the product - arbutin, after its isolation and purification was confirmed by spectral analysis ((1)H-NMR spectrum). The maximum amount of arbutin obtained was higher than that required by the latest 9(th) Edition of the Polish Pharmacopoeia and by the newest 8th Edithion of European Pharmacopoeia for Uvae ursi folium (7.0 g/100g d.w.), and is interesting from practical point of view.

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