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Researchers presented their findings at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) earlier this week.
Phytochemicals found in maple leaves
Red maple leaves are currently used in nutraceutical and cosmetic applications, but a comprehensive phytochemical characterization of the material had yet to be fully studied and published, according to researchers.
Researchers identified the phenolic compounds in the maple leaf using liquid chromatography with electrospray ionization time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry.
The method identified 106 phenolic compounds in red maple leaves including 68 gallotannins, 25 flavonoids, gallic acid, quinic acid, catechin, epicatechin, and nine other gallic acid derivatives among which 11 are potentially new and 75 are being reported from red maple for the first time, researchers stated.
“The developed method to characterize red maple leaves phenolics is rapid and highly sensitive and could aid in future standardization and quality control of this botanical ingredient,” wrote the researchers.
In a separate study, researchers zeroed in on the glucitol-core-containing gallotanins (GCGs) by examining each compound’s ability to inhibit the breakdown of elastin, the protein which maintains skin’s elasticity.
The scientists conducted computational studies to examine how the GCGs interact with elastase to block its activity, and how the molecules' structures affect that blocking ability.
GCGs containing multiple galloyl groups (a type of phenolic group) were found to be more effective than those with a single galloyl group, according to researchers.
However, these compounds can do more than interfere with elastase. In prior work, researchers showed that these same GCGs might be able to protect skin from inflammation and lighten dark spots, such as unwanted freckles or age spots.
Commercialization of maple leaf extract
The researchers have taken steps to get the extract into products, having developed a proprietary patent-pending formulation containing GCGs from summer and fall maple leaves and maple sap, called 'Maplifa' licensed through botanical extracts supplier Verdure Sciences based in Indiana with the goal of finding a market for the extract in dietary supplements and the cosmetic industry.
If the Maplifa maple leaf extract product does hit the market, it would benefit the US botanical industry as maple trees are found in abundance throughout the US, researchers added.
"Many botanical ingredients traditionally come from China, India and the Mediterranean, but the sugar maple and the red maple only grow in eastern North America," said Navindra P. Seeram, Ph.D., the project's principal investigator.
The process would also be sustainable because leaves could be collected during normal pruning or when they fall from the trees in autumn, Seeram said.
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Source: Journal of Separation Science
https://doi.org/10.1002/jssc.201800037“Ultra‐fast liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization time‐of‐flight mass spectrometry for the rapid phenolic profiling of red maple (Acer rubrum) leaves”
Authors: Navindra P. Seeram, et al.