The genus Passiflora is comprised of approximately 450 species, but only a few are commercially exploited. Several Passiflora (Passifloraceae) species are utilized as phytomedicines (anxiolytics). These contain flavonoids, mainly C-glycosylflavones- apigenin and luteolin derivatives which frequently occur as isomers.
Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds that are ubiquitous in nature and are one of the largest and most widespread classes of compounds. To date, over 4,000 flavonoids have been identified and they have attracted considerable interest due to their diverse pharmacological and biological properties. Such attributes mean many flavonoid containing plant species may be used as functional foods or phytomedicines.
The most well-known species of this family is Passiflora incarnata, which is found in Europe and North America. Originally from Brazil, P.edulis is very popular and cultivated in many countries for its edible fruits. Passion fruit (P.edulis and P.alata) is known as Maracujá in Brazil, the largest producer of P.edulis in the world. In the U.S. and EU it is popular because of its pleasant taste and sedative/traquilizing effects from infusion of its leaves. Leaf extracts are also utilized for flavoring and in juices by the food industry. The fruit are used in juices, ice creams, or eaten naturally.
Passiflora edulis is also native to tropical areas of other South American countries, including Paraguay, Argentina, and Peru. In addition to its anxiolytic effects P.edulis leaves are recognized for their antiinflammatory activity. The sedative properties of the Passiflora species are related to its phytochemical makeup.
It is therefore important that consumer products be authenticated with confidence, and that an accurate profile of the phytochemical composition is obtained.
The use of flavonoid compounds as markers to profile a species or authenticate a consumer product is important, but also a challenge due to sample complexity. Analysis of such complex samples can be difficult when the sample is comprised of isomers. Subtle changes in chromatography resulting from the sample matrix, column loading, and chromatographic conditions can result in the coelution of isomers.
In this application note, we investigate the use of UPLC with ion mobility mass spectrometry as a route to specific and unambiguous identification of flavonoid isomers. UPLC-IM-MS offers unique advantages to profiling complex mixtures. We demonstrate a routine, non-targeted screening workflow that can uniquely determine the presence of these isomeric flavonoid markers. The UPLC-IM-MS system enables the authentication of phytochemical makeup with unmatched specificity that cannot be provided by mass accuracy alone.