Content of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the leaves of coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara L.) in Poland

Artur Adamczak, Bogna Opala, Agnieszka Gryszczyńska, Waldemar Buchwald

Abstract


Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara L.) is a common species, widely used in European and Chinese traditional medicine for the treatment of respiratory diseases. However, raw material from this plant contains hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). The aim of the study was to determine the variability of the level of PAs (senkirkine and senecionine) in leaves of coltsfoot originated from natural populations in Poland. In the phytochemical analysis, 20 samples of T. farfara were used. This plant material was obtained from the Garden of Medicinal Plants in Plewiska near Poznań and originated from different regions of Poland. Coltsfoot leaves were harvested in the middle of July of 2010 and then dried at room temperature. The alkaloid content was detected using the HPLC-DAD method. The amount of PAs in leaves of T. farfara changed in a wide range from 0.06 to 1.04 μg g−1 of dry matter (DM). The content of senkirkine and senecionine was positively correlated (r = 0.68, P = 0.001). There was no statistically significant correlation between the amount of PAs as well as leaf weight and water content in leaves of T. farfara. Our results showed that a medium-sized leaf of coltsfoot (0.33 g DM) may contain from 0.02 to 0.34 μg of PAs (on average 0.14 μg). The level of PAs was not associated with the region of Poland, but phytochemical similarity of samples was usually visible at the local scale. Coltsfoot leaves are characterized by a high variability of the content of toxic PAs, much higher than in the case of the main active compounds, especially flavonoids and mucilage.
This phytochemical variability is mainly genetically determined (samples came from a garden collection), and it can be increased by environmental factors. Our investigations indicate that Polish natural populations of T. farfara may provide raw material with a low level of toxic PAs.

Keywords


Tussilago farfara; medicinal plants; toxicity; pyrrolizidine alkaloids; senkirkine; senecionine

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References


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