Metabolomics in research of phytotherapeutics

Authors: Katarína Kráľová ;  Josef Jampílek 1;  Ivan Ostrovský
Authors‘ workplace: Chemický ústav, Prírodovedecká fakulta, Univerzita Komenského v Bratislave ;  Ústav chemických léčiv FaF VFU 1
Published in: Čes. slov. Farm., 2012; 61, 0
Category: Review Articles


Pharmaceutical and food industries are increasingly focused on the great potential of plant secondary metabolites or natural substances which can be used as therapeutics or model compounds for development of new drugs. The paper is devoted to the use of metabolomics, metabolic profiling and metabolic “fingerprint“ for the identification of individual active phyto-substances in plant extracts, in profiling of unique groups of plant secondary metabolites that can be used to improve the classification of several species of medicinal plants as well as for a better characterization and quality control of medicinal extracts, tinctures and phytotherapeutic products prepared from these plants. Combined analytical methods and multivariate statistical analysis are used for metabolite identification. Using this approach, medicinal plants are evaluated not only on the basis of a limited number of pharmacologically important metabolites but also based on the fingerprints of minor metabolites and bioactive molecules.

metabolomics • metabolic profiling • metabolic „fingerprint“ • medicinal plants


1. Nielsen J., Oliver S. The next wave in metabolome analysis. Trends Biotechnol 2005; 23, 544–546.

2. Roessner U., Wagner C., Kopka J., Trethewey R. N., Willmitzer, L. Technical advance: simultaneous analysis of metabolites in potato tuber by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Plant J 2000; 23, 131–142.

3. Stitt M., Fernie A. R. From measurements of metabolites to metabolomics: an ‘on the fly’ perspective illustrated by recent studies of carbon–nitrogen interactions. Curr Opin Biotechnol 2003; 14, 136–144.

4. Kopka J., Fernie A., Weckwerth W., Gibon Y., Stitt M. Metabolite profiling in plant biology: platforms and destinations. Genome Biol 2004; 5, 109.

5. Lange D. Europe’s medicinal and aromatic plants: their use, trade and conservation. Cambridge UK: Traffic Europe/International 1998.

6. Kozlowski R., Braniecki P., Mackiewicz-Talarczyk M. Report from the state of Poland. Forming Part of the IENICA-INFORRM Project. Poznan 2004.

7. Tóth Š., Šalamon I. Increase of field crop yields by application of medicinal plant wastes and their extracts. In: Cultivation of medicinal and spice plants. Nitra: Agroinstitute 1997; 39–43.

8. Fiehn O. Metabolomics – the link between genotypes and phenotypes. Plant Mol Biol 2002; 48, 155–171.

9. Schauer N., Fernie A. R. Plant metabolomics: towards biological function and mechanism. Trends Plant Sci 2006; 11, 508–516.

10. Shyur L. F., Yang N. S. Metabolomics for phytomedicine research and drug development. Curr Opin Chem Biol 2008; 12, 66–71.

11. Williamson E. M. Synergy and other interactions in phytomedicines. Phytomedicine 2001; 8, 401–409.

12. Wang C. Y., Chiao M. T., Yen P. J., Huang W. C., Hou C. J., Chung S. C., Yeh K. C., Yang W. C., Shyur L. F., Yang N. S. Modulatory effects of Echinacea purpurea extracts on human dendritic cells: a cell and gene-based study. Genomics 2006; 88, 9801–9808.

13. Yang N. S., Shyur L. F., Chen C. H., Wang S. Y., Tzeng C. M. Medicinal herb extract and a single-compound drug confer similar complex pharmacogenomic activities in MCF-7 cells. J Biomed Sci 2004; 11, 418–422.

14. Zeng Z. D., Liang Y. Z., Chau F. T., Chen S., Daniel M. K., Chan C. O. Mass spectral profiling: an effective tool for quality control of herbal medicines. Anal Chim Acta 2007; 604, 89–98.

15. Ye M., Liu S. H., Jiang Z., Lee Y., Tilton R., Cheng Y. C. Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis of PHY906, a Chinese medicine formulation for cancer therapy. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 2007; 21, 3593–3607.

16. Yang S. Y., Kim H. K., Lefeber A. W. M., Erkelens C., Angelova N., Choi Y. H., Verpoorte R. Application of two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to quality control of Ginseng commercial products. Planta Med 2006; 72, 364–369.

17. Dan M., Su M., Gao X., Zhao T., Zhao A., Xie G., Qiu Y., Zhou M., Liu Z., Jia W. Metabolite profiling of Panax notoginseng using UPLC-ESI-MS. Phytochemistry 2008; 69, 2237–2244.

18. Ding S., Dudley E., Plummer S., Tang J., Newton R. P., Brenton A. G. Fingerprint profile of Ginkgo biloba nutritional supplements by LC/ESI-MS/MS. Phytochemistry 2008; 69, 1555–1564.

19. van der Kooy F., Verpoorte R., Meyer J. J. M. Metabolomic quality control of claimed antimalarial Artemisia afra herbal remedy and A. afra and A. annua plant extracts. S Afr J Bot 2008; 74, 186–189.

20. Shibano M., Lin A. S., Itokawa H., Lee K. H. Separation and characterization of active flavonolignans of Silybum marianum by liquid chromatography connected with hybrid ion-trap and time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-MS/IT-TOF). J Nat Prod 2007; 70, 1424–1428.

21. Clarkson C., Madikane E. V., Hansen S. H., Smith P. J., Jaroszewski J. W. HPLC–SPE-NMR characterization of sesquiterpenes in an antimycobacterial fraction from Warburgia salutaris. Planta Med 2007; 73, 578–584.

22. Bennett M. D., Leitch I. J., Price H. J., Johnston J. S. Comparisons with Caenorhabditis (100 Mb) and Drosophila (175 Mb) using flow cytometry show genome size in Arabidopsis to be 157 Mb and thus 25% larger than the Arabidopsis genome initiative estimate of 125 Mb. Annals of Botany 2003; 91, 547–557.

23. The Arabidopsis Genome Initiative. Analysis of the genome sequence of the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Nature 2000; 408, 796–815.

24. Tholl D., Chen F., Iijima Y., Fridman E., Gang D. R., Lewinsohn E., Pichersky E. Identifying substrates and products of enzymes of plant volatile biosynthesis with the help of metabolic profiling. Concepts in Plant Metabolomics 2007, 169–182; Nikolau B. J., Wurtele R. S. (ed.).

25. Filippini R., Piovan A., Borsarini A., Caniato R. Study of dynamic accumulation of secondary metabolites in three subspecies of Hypericum perforatum. Fitoterapia 2010; 81, 115–119.

26. Alali F. Q., Tawaha K., Gharaibeh M. LC-MS and LC-PDA analysis of Hypericum empetrifolium and Hypericum sinaicum. Z Naturforsch C - J Biosci 2009; 64, 476–482.

27. Kim S., Shin M., Hossain M. A., Yun E. J., Lee H., Kim K. H. Metabolite profiling of sucrose effect on the metabolism of Melissa officinalis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Anal Bioanal Chem 2011; 399, 3519–3528.

28. Lee A. R., Gautam M., Kim J., Shin W. J., Choi M. S., Bong Y. S., Hwang G. S., Lee K. S. Multianalytical approach for determining the geographical origin of ginseng using strontium isotopes, multielements, and 1H NMR analysis. J Agric Food Chem 2011; 59, 8560–8567.

29. Lee E. J., Shaykhutdinov R., Weljie A. M., Vogel H. J., Facchini P. J., Park S. U., Kim Y. K., Yang T. J. Quality assessment of ginseng by 1H NMR metabolite fingerprinting and profiling analysis. J Agric Food Chem 2009; 57, 7513–7522.

30. Weber B., Herrmann M., Hartmann B., Joppe H., Schmidt C. O., Bertram H. J. HPLC/MS and HPLC/NMR as hyphenated techniques for accelerated characterization of the main constituents in Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita [L.] Rauschert). Eur Food Res Technol 2008; 226, 755–760.

31. Pigott E. J., Roberts W., Ovenden S. P. B., Rochfort S., Bourne D. J. Metabolomic investigations of Ricinus communis for cultivar and provenance determination. Metabolomics 2011, DOI 10.1007/s11306-011-0355-7.

32. Yang S. O., Hyun S. H., Kim S. H., Kim H. S., Lee J., Whang W. K., Lee M. W., Choi H. K. Differentiation of roots of Glycyrrhiza species by 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and multivariate statistical analysis. Bull Korean Chem Soc 2010; 31, 825–828.

33. Politi M., Zloh M., Pintadi M. E., Castro P. M., Heinrich M., Prieto J. M. Direct metabolic fingerprinting of commercial herbal tinctures by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Phytochem Anal 2009; 20, 328–334.

34. Bilia A., Bergonzi M. C., Mazzi G., Vincieri F. F. NMR spectroscopy: a useful tool for characterization of plant extracts, the case of supercritical CO2 Arnica extract. J Pharm Biomed Anal 2002; 30, 321–330.

35. Bailey N. J., Wang Y., Sampson J., Davis W., Whitcombe I., Hylands P. J., Croft S. L., Holmes E. Prediction of anti-plasmodial activity of Artemisia annua extracts: application of 1H NMR spectroscopy and chemometrics. J Pharm Biomed Anal 2004; 35, 117–126.

36. Wang Y., Tang H., Nicholson J. K., Hylands P., Sampson J., Whitcombe I., Stewart C. G., Caiger S., Oru I., Holmes E. Metabolomic strategy for the classification and quality control of phytomedicine: a case study of chamomile flower (Matricaria recutita L.). Planta Med. 2004; 70, 250–255.

37. Choi Y. H., Kim H. K., Hazekamp A., Erkelens C., Lefeber A. W. M., Verpoorte R. Metabolomic differentiation of Cannabis sativa cultivars using 1H NMR spectroscopy and principal component analysis. J Nat Prod 2004; 67, 953–957.

38. Yang S. Y., Kim H. K., Lefeber A. W. M., Erkelens C., Angelova N., Choi Y. H., Verpoorte R. Application of two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to quality control of Ginseng commercial products. Planta Med 2006; 72, 364–369.

39. Tarachiwin L., Katoh A., Ute K., Fukusaki E. Quality evaluation of Angelica acutiloba Kitagawa roots by 1H NMR-based metabolic fingerprinting. J Pharm Biomed Anal 2008; 48, 42–48.

40. Kim H. K., Choi Y. H., Erkelens C., Lefeber A. W. M., Verpoorte R. Metabolic fingerprinting of Ephedra species using 1H-NMR spectroscopy and principal component analysis. Chem Pharm Bull 2005; 53, 105–109.

41. Kayser O. Metabolic engineering strategies for the optimization of medicinal and aromatic plants: expectations and realities. Acta Hort (ISHS) 2010; 860, 199–204.

42. Cordell G. A. Sustainable medicines and global health care. Planta Med 2011; 77, 1129–1138.

43. Okada T., Afendi F. M., Altaf-Ul-Amin M., Takahashi H., Nakamura K., Kanaya S. Metabolomics of medicinal plants: the importance of multivariate analysis of analytical chemistry data. Curr Comput Aided Drug Des 2010; 6, 179–196.

Pharmacy Clinical pharmacology
Forgotten password

Don‘t have an account?  Create new account

Forgotten password

Enter the email address that you registered with. We will send you instructions on how to set a new password.


Don‘t have an account?  Create new account