Metabolic fate of cardiac glycosides and flavonoids upon fermentation of aqueous sea squill (Drimia maritimaL.) extracts

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Sea squill (Drimia maritima L.) extracts have been used for centuries for the medical treatment of heart diseases. A procedure for the preparation of Drimia extracts applied for such purposes comprising a fermentation step is described in the German Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia (GHP). However, little is known about the secondary metabolite profile of such extracts and the fate of these components upon processing and storage. Thus, in the present study sea squill extracts were monitored during fermentation and storage by HPLC-DAD–MSn and GC–MS to characterise and quantitate individual cardiac glycosides and phenolic compounds. For this purpose, a previously established HPLC method for the separation and quantitation of pharmacologically relevant cardiac glycosides (bufadienolides) was validated. Within 12 months of storage, total bufadienolide contents decreased by about 50%, which was attributed to microbial and plant enzyme activities. The metabolisation and degradation rates of individual bufadienolide glycosides significantly differed, which was attributed to differing structures of the aglycones. Further degradation of bufadienolide aglycones was also observed. Besides reactions well known from human metabolism studies, dehydration of individual compounds was monitored. Quantitatively predominating flavonoids were also metabolised throughout the fermentation process. The present study provides valuable information about the profile and stability of individual cardiac glycosides and phenolic compounds in fermented Drimia extracts prepared for medical applications, and expands the knowledge of cardiac glycoside conversion upon microbial fermentation.

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