Characterization of diarylheptanoids: An emerging class of bioactive natural products

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Abstract

Diarylheptanoids are a class of secondary plant metabolites with a wide variety of bioactivity. Research on their phytochemistry and phytoanalysis is rapidly growing and the number of identified structures bearing the aryl-C7-aryl skeleton is at present approaching 500. Historically, the yellow pigment curcumin has been characterized as the first diarylheptanoid and the extensive research on naturally occurring analogues is still ongoing. In this review, studies dealing with the characterization of linear and cyclic derivatives are discussed from the phytoanalytical point of view. Isolation, fractionation and purification strategies from natural sources along with their chromatographic behavior and structural characteristics are discussed. The role of various techniques used for the extraction (such as Soxhlet extraction, sonication, maceration/percolation, microwave-assisted extraction, supercritical carbon dioxide extraction); isolation (liquid–liquid extraction, column chromatographic techniques, preparative thin-layer and high-performance liquid chromatography, centrifugal partition chromatography, counter-current chromatography); separation (thin-layer chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, capillary electrophoresis) and structural characterization (UV/Vis spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and circular dichroism spectroscopy) are critically reviewed.

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