UPLC-QTOF-MS and NMR analyses of graviola (Annona muricata) leaves


Graviola leaves (Annona muricata L., (ceae) are used by some people to try to treat or even cure cancer, even though over-consumption of the fruit, which contains the neurotoxins annonacin and squamocin has caused an atypical form of Parkinson’s disease. In previous analyses, the fruits were extracted with methanol under ambient conditions before analyses. In the present study, UPLC-QTOF-MS and NMR were used to analyze freeze-dried graviola leaves that were extracted using dry methanol and ethanol at 100° C and 10MPa (100atm) pressure in a sealed container. Methanol solubilized 33% of the metabolites in the lyophilized leaves. Ethanol solubilized 41% of metabolites in the lyophilized leaves. The concentrations of total phenolic compounds were 100.3 ±2.8 and 93.2 ± 2.0 mg gallic acid equivalents per g of sample, for the methanolic and ethanolic extracts, respectively. Moreover, the toxicophore (unsaturated 7-lactone) that is present in neurotoxic acetogenins was found in the lipophilic portion of this extract. The concentrations of the neurotoxins annonacin and squamocin were found by UPLC-QTOF-MS to be 305.6 ± 28.3 and 17.4 ± 0.89 (xg/g-dw, respectively, in the dried leaves. Pressurized methanol solubilized more annonacin and squamocin than ethanol. On the other hand, a hot, aqueous infusion solubilized only 0.213% of the annonacin and too little of the squamocin to be detected. So, graviola leaves contain significant amounts of the neurotoxins annonacin and squamocin, as well as some potentially healthy phenolic compounds. Finally, the potential neurotoxicity of whole leaves in dietary supplements could be much higher than that of a tea (hot aqueous infusion) that is made from them.


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IVMM, PRVR, FLS, KMC, GJZ, ESB and RES conceived and designed the experiments. IVMM, PRVR, FLS, KMC, GJZ and ESB did the LC-MS and total phenolics analyses as well as data interpretation. RL did the NMR analyses. IVMM, KMR and KT did the pressurized liquid extractions. RES wrote the article. Everyone read the article and suggested some changes.

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Correspondence to Robert E. Smith.

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de Moraes, I.V.M., Ribeiro, P.R.V., Schmidt, F.L. et al. UPLC-QTOF-MS and NMR analyses of graviola (Annona muricata) leaves. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia 26, 174–179 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjp.2015.12.001

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  • Graviola
  • Annona muricata
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • NMR