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J AOAC Int. 1998 Jul-Aug;81(4):691-701.

Liquid chromatographic determination of methylxanthines and catechins in herbal preparations containing guaraná.

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  • 1U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Minneapolis, MN 55401, USA.


Herbal preparations derived from the dried seeds of guaraná (Paullinia cupana) have become a popular nutritional supplement used for stimulatory purposes. Once considered a drug substance in the United States, guaraná currently is classified as a food additive and dietary supplement. The pharmacological activity of guaraná-containing products is primarily due to methylxanthine alkaloids. For guaraná preparations, methylxanthine levels and, more significantly, the presence of several polyphenol compounds (i.e., catechins) provide phytochemical markers of authenticity. Methylxanthines and polyphenols are extracted from sample matrix with a heated phosphate buffer-methanol solution, the cooled extract is filtered, and the extract is injected into the liquid chromatographic (LC) system. A Nova-Pak C18 column eluted with phosphate buffer-methanol mobile phase (pH = 3.50) and monitored at 272 nm gave satisfactory resolution for the methylxanthines theobromine, theophylline, caffeine and the polyphenols (+)-catechin and (-)-epicatechin. Twenty-four products including dried seeds, dried paste, seed powders, tablets, and capsule formulations were assayed and conclusions were drawn about their authenticity. The LC system responded linearly to methylxanthines over the 100-fold range in concentration from 0.043 to 4.30 micrograms/mL for theobromine and caffeine and from 0.041 to 4.10 micrograms/mL for theophylline. Precision data for the 3 methylxanthines obtained from 10 different products (n = 5) gave relative standard deviation (RSD) values of 1.18-15.52% within a concentration range of 0.01-52.28 mg/g. Recoveries of methylxanthines from fortified products varied from 87.5 to 120.0%. The response for catechins was linear over a 200-fold range in concentration of 0.05-10.0 micrograms/mL. Precision data from 5 products (n = 5) gave RSD values of 1.08-5.54% within a concentration range of 0.34-32.65 mg/g. Recoveries from these products ranged from 87.7 to 109.7%. Results and chromatographic profiles for 14 commercial products in solid dosage form indicate that a number of these products may not contain authentic guaraná as an active ingredient or contain less than the declared quantity of guaraná. The proposed procedure also was applied to 2 carbonated soft drinks and a sample of maté.

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