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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPACT OF EARLY DIETARY FACTORS ON CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND HEALTH Title: Anthocyanins: analysis and distribution in selected medicinal plants

Authors
item Wu, Xianli -
item Prior, Ronald

Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: January 5, 2008
Publication Date: December 15, 2008
Citation: Wu, X., Prior, R.L. 2008. Anthocyanins: Analysis and distribution in selected medicinal plants. Asian Chemistry Letters. 11(1&2):9-22.

Interpretive Summary: Anthocyanins are water soluble plant secondary metabolites responsible for the blue, purple, and red color of many plant tissues. They have been shown to be strong antioxidants, and may exert a wide range of health benefits through antioxidant or other mechanisms. While anthocyanins in dietary sources have been well studied, information of anthocyanin distribution in medicinal plants is rare. In this review, the occurrence and distribution of different types of anthocyanins in various medicinal plants were summarized. Many medicinal plants were found containing anthocyanins. Anthocyanins may contribute in part to bioactivities of these medicinal plants.

Technical Abstract: Anthocyanins are water soluble plant secondary metabolites responsible for the blue, purple, and red color of many plant tissues. They have been shown to be strong antioxidants, and may exert a wide range of health benefits through antioxidant or other mechanisms. Anthocyanins occur primarily as glycosides of their respective aglycone anthocyanidin-chromophores. Aglycones are rarely found in fresh plant materials. Methods of analysis and identification of anthosyanins have varied from thin layer chromatography (TLC) and paper chromatography (PC) in early times to hight performance liquid chromtography (HPLC) with phodiode array detection (PDA) [also called a diode array detector (DAD)], and then, to HPLC in tandem with mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Over 600 naturally occuring anthocyanins have been reported, and they are known to vary in: 1) the number and position of hydroxyl and methoxyl groups on the basic anthocyanidin skeleton; 2) the identity, number, and positions at which sugars are attached; and 3) the extent of sugar acylation and the identity of the acylating agent. Due to the important physiological roles they play in both pollination and seed dispersal, anthocyanins are mainly distributed in skin of fruits and flower petals. Many medicinal plants contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins may contribute in part to bioactivities of these medicinal plants. Through literature search using PubMed and SciFinder (1950-2007), anthocyanins in 34 medicinal plants were summarized and presented in this review.

Last Modified: 10/23/2014
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