Journal of ethnopharmacology

Comparing morphological, chemical and anti-diabetic characteristics of Puerariae Lobatae Radix and Puerariae Thomsonii Radix.

PMID 25560667


Puerariae Lobatae Radix (PLR) and Puerariae Thomsonii Radix (PTR) are traditional Chinese medicines used for the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. These two herbs are used interchangeably in clinical practice, even though they possess significantly different chemical profiles. In the case of Pueraria species, the misidentification is related to the multiple Chinese common names in clinical practice and variable pharmaceutical Latin names in different versions of the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China. In addition, there is lack of evidence demonstrating how the differences in the chemical profile would impact on the pharmacological activity of the two herbs. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the microscopic, phytochemical profiles and anti-diabetic activity of PLR and PTR so that the two species can be differentiated. The microscopic characteristics of the PLR and PTR were observed and measured by an optical microscope. The major compounds were quantified by ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) and total flavonoid content (TFC) colorimetric assay. The free radical scavenging capacity was assessed by 2,2-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) antioxidant assays. Anti-diabetic activity was determined by the inhibition of porcine pancreatic α-amylase and rat intestinal α-glucosidase activities. Microscopic results illustrated that the size of xylem vessels (PLR: 0.1390 ± 0.0184 mm; PTR: 0.0471 ± 0.0109 mm), number of fibre per bundle (PLR: 32.6800 ± 2.8780; PTR: 16.5900 ± 0.9982) and the size of fibre (PLR: 0.0075 ± 0.0003 mm(2); PTR: 0.0025 ± 0.0002 mm(2)) in PLR were significantly greater than that in PTR (p<0.01). PLR possessed a significantly lower total starch content (PLR: 0.5288 ± 1.2559 mg starch/g DM; PTR: 76.7954 ± 2.9905 mg starch/g DM) and total dietary fibre content (PLR: 4.2886 ± 0.3466 g/100g DM; PTR: 12.4148 ± 0.4541 g/100g DM) as compared to PTR. Isoflavonoids including puerarin, daidzin, genistin and daidzein were the major chemical constituents in both species. However, the average content of puerarin in PLR was found to be eleven times greater than that in PTR. Furthermore, the TFC, DPPH free radical scavenging capacity, anti-α-amylase and anti-α-glucosidase in the PLR extracts were 4.42, 4.91, 3.10 and 4.22 times greater than in the PTR extracts. This study provides a comprehensive investigation on the two medicinal valuable Pueraria species and allows differences to be ascertained. This information can be used to update monographs which will help practitioners and dispensers differentiate the herbs. Further study on the interchangeable use of PLR and PTR in clinical practice is urgently warranted.