Phytochemical screening of Pulsatilla species and investigation of their biological activities

Grażyna Łaska, Aneta Sienkiewicz, Marcin Stocki, Jordan K. Zjawiony, Vimal Sharma, Andrzej Bajguz, Alicja Piotrowska-Niczyporuk, Melissa Jacob, Shabana Khan


The present study aimed to identify biologically active secondary metabolites from the rare plant species, Pulsatilla patens subsp. patens and the cultivated P. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris. Chromatographic fractionation of the ethanolic extract of the roots of P. patens subsp. patens resulted in the isolation of two oleanane-type glycosides identified as hederagenin 3-O-β-d-glucopyranoside (2.7 mg) and hederagenin 3-O-β-d-galactopyranosyl-(1→2)-β-d-glucopyranoside (3.3 mg, patensin). HPLC analysis of the methanolic extract of the crude root of P. patens subsp. patens and P. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris revealed the presence of Pulsatilla saponin D (hederagenin 3-O-α-l-rhamnopyranosyl(1→2)-[β-d-glucopyranosyl(1→4)]-α-l-arabinopyranoside). Chromatographic analysis using GC-MS of the silylated methanolic extracts from the leaves and roots of these species identified the presence of carboxylic acids, such as benzoic, caffeic, malic, and succinic acids. The extracts from Pulsatilla species were tested for their antifungal, antimicrobial, and antimalarial activities, and cytotoxicity to mammalian cell lines. Both P. patens subsp. patens and P. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris were active against the fungus Candida glabrata with the half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values of 9.37 µg/mL and 11 µg/mL, respectively. The IC50 values for cytotoxicity evaluation were in the range of 32–38 μg/mL for P. patens subsp. patens and 35–57 μg/mL for P. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris for each cell line, indicating general cytotoxic activity throughout the panel of evaluated cancer and noncancer cells.


pasque flower subspecies; oleanane-type triterpenoid glycosides; carboxylic acids; antifungal and antimicrobial activities; cytotoxicity; medicinal applications

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