Original Paper

Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 402, Issue 3, pp 1327-1336

First online:

New identification of proanthocyanidins in cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum L.) using MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometry

  • María Luisa Mateos-MartínAffiliated withInstitute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC), CSIC
  • , Elisabet FuguetAffiliated withInstitute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC), CSICDepartament de Química Analítica, Universitat de Barcelona Email author 
  • , Carmen QueroAffiliated withInstitute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC), CSIC
  • , Jara Pérez-JiménezAffiliated withInstitute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC), CSIC
  • , Josep Lluís TorresAffiliated withInstitute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC), CSIC

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The inner bark of Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum L.) is commonly used as a spice and has also been widely employed in the treatment and prevention of disease. The positive health effects associated with the consumption of cinnamon could in part be due to its phenolic composition; proanthocyanidins (PA) are the major polyphenolic component in commercial cinnamon. We present a thorough study of the PA profile of cinnamon obtained using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization tandem time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF/TOF) mass spectrometry. In addition to the advantages of MALDI-TOF as a sensitive technique for the analysis of high-molecular-weight compounds, the tandem arrangement allows the identification of the compounds through their fragmentation patterns from MS/MS experiments. This is the first time that this technique has been used to analyze polymeric PA. The results show that cinnamon PA are more complex than was previously thought. We show here for the first time that they contain (epi)gallocatechin and (epi)catechingallate units. As gallates (galloyl moieties) and the pyrogallol group in gallocatechins have been related to the biological activity of grape and tea polyphenols, the presence of these substructures may explain some of the properties of cinnamon extracts. MALDI-TOF/TOF reveals that cinnamon bark PA include combinations of (epi)catechin, (epi)catechingallate, (epi)gallocatechin, and (epi)afzelechin, which results in a highly heterogeneous mixture of procyanidins, prodelphinidins, and propelargonidins.


MALDI-TOF/TOF Cinnamon Polyphenols Proanthocyanidins Mass spectrometry