Comparative metabolite profiling and fingerprinting of medicinal licorice roots using a multiplex approach of GC-MS, LC-MS and 1D NMR techniques.

PMID 22336263


Glycyrrhiza glabra, commonly known as licorice, is a popular herbal supplement used for the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions and possesses anticancer and antiviral activities. This species contains a plethora of phytochemicals including terpenoids, saponins, flavonoids, polyamines and polysaccharides. The full complement of bioactive compounds has yet to be elucidated, a step necessary in order to explain its medicinal use. There are over 30 species in the Glycyrrhiza genus world-wide, most of which have been little characterized in terms of phytochemical or pharmacological properties. Here, large scale multi-targeted metabolic profiling and fingerprinting techniques were utilized to help gain a broader insight into Glycyrrhiza species chemical composition. UV, MS and NMR spectra of extracted components were connected with NMR, MS, and multivariate analyses data from Glycyrrhiza glabra, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Glycyrrhiza inflata and Glycyrrhiza echinata. Major peaks in (1)H NMR and MS spectra contributing to the discrimination among species were assigned as those of glycyrrhizin, 4-hydroxyphenyl acetic acid, and glycosidic conjugates of liquiritigenin/isoliquiritigenin. Primary metabolites profiling using GC-MS revealed the presence of cadaverine, an amino acid, exclusively found in G. inflata roots. Both LC-MS and NMR were found effective techniques in sample classification based on genetic and or geographical origin as revealed from derived PCA analysis.