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J Nat Prod. 2019 Dec 27;82(12):3249-3266. doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.9b00328. Epub 2019 Nov 25.

Development of a Building Block Strategy to Target the Classification, Identification, and Metabolite Profiling of Oleanane Triterpenoids in Gymnema sylvestre Using UHPLC-qTOF/MS.

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Korea Bioactive Natural Material Bank, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy , Seoul National University , Seoul 08826 , Republic of Korea.
Department of Botany , Hanoi University of Pharmacy , Hanoi , Vietnam.


The major class of bioactive metabolites in Gymnema sylvestre, a popular Ayurvedic medicinal plant for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, is oleanane triterpenoids. In this study, a targeted, biosynthesis-inspired approach using UHPLC-qTOF/MS was implemented to elucidate the whole chemical profile of this plant for the standardization of the Vietnamese G. sylvestre variety. The known compounds were first determined to identify the building blocks of the biosynthetic intermediates and the construction rules for synthesizing oleanane triterpenoids in the plant. These blocks were recombined to build a virtual library of all reasonable compounds consistent with the deduced construction rules. Various techniques, including relative mass defect filtering, multiple key ion analysis, mass fragmentation analysis, and comparison with standard references, were applied to determine the presence of these predicted compounds. Conventional isolation and structure elucidation of six of the new compounds were carried out to identify the new building blocks and validate the assignments. Consequently, 119 peaks were quickly assigned to oleanane triterpenoids, and among them, 77 peaks were predicted to be new compounds based on their molecular formulas and mass fragmentation patterns. All the identified metabolites were then classified into different layers to analyze their logical relationships, and a multilayered chemical profile of the oleanane triterpenoids was constructed. This new approach is expected to be practical for characterizing structures of modular secondary metabolites, such as triterpenoid saponins, and for proposing biosynthetic relationships among compounds of the same class of metabolites in medicinal plants.

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