Storage method, drying processes and extraction procedures strongly affect the phenolic fraction of rosemary leaves: an HPLC/DAD/MS study.

PMID 21645686


The Rosmarinus officinalis L. is widely known for its numerous applications in the food field but also for the increasing interest in its pharmaceutical properties. Two groups of compounds are mainly responsible for the biological activities of the plant: the volatile fraction and the phenolic constituents. The latter group is mainly constituted by rosmarinic acid, by a flavonoidic fraction and by some diterpenoid compounds structurally derived from the carnosic acid. The aim of our work was to optimize the extractive and analytical procedure for the determination of all the phenolic constituents. Moreover the chemical stability of the main phenols, depending on the storage condition, the different drying procedures and the extraction solvent, have been evaluated. This method allowed to detect up to 29 different constituents at the same time in a relatively short time. The described procedure has the advantage to being able to detect and quantify several classes of compounds, among them numerous minor flavonoids, thus contributing to improving knowledge of the plant. The findings from this study have demonstrated that storing the raw fresh material in the freezer is not appropriate for rosemary, mainly due to the rapid disappearing of the rosmarinic acid during the freezing/thawing process. Regarding the flavonoidic fraction, consistent decrements, were highlighted in the dried samples at room temperature if compared with the fresh leaf. Rosmarinic acid, appeared very sensitive also to mild drying processes. The total diterpenoidic content undergoes to little changes when the leaves are freeze dried or frozen and limited losses are observed working on dried leaves at room temperature. Nevertheless it can be taken in account that this fraction is very sensitive to the water presence during the extraction that favors the conversion of carnosic acid toward it oxidized form carnosol. From our findings, it appear evident that when evaluating the phenolic content in rosemary leaves, several factors, mainly the type of storage, the drying process and the extraction methods, should be carefully taken into account because they can induce partial losses of the antioxidant components.

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Carnosol, analytical standard