, 15:80 | Cite as

Comparative metabolome-based classification of Senna drugs: a prospect for phyto-equivalency of its different commercial products

  • Mohamed A. FaragEmail author
  • Amira S. El Senousy
  • Sherweit H. El-Ahmady
  • Andrea Porzel
  • Ludger A. Wessjohann
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Plant metabolomics and lipidomics



The demand to develop efficient and reliable analytical methods for the quality control of nutraceuticals is on the rise, together with an increase in the legal requirements for safe and consistent levels of its active principles.


To establish a reliable model for the quality control of widely used Senna preparations used as laxatives and assess its phyto-equivalency.


A comparative metabolomics approach via NMR and MS analyses was employed for the comprehensive measurement of metabolites and analyzed using chemometrics.


Under optimized conditions, 30 metabolites were simultaneously identified and quantified including anthraquinones, bianthrones, acetophenones, flavonoid conjugates, naphthalenes, phenolics, and fatty acids. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to define relative metabolite differences among Senna preparations. Furthermore, quantitative 1H NMR (qHNMR) was employed to assess absolute metabolites levels in preparations. Results revealed that 6-hydroxy musizin or tinnevellin were correlated with active metabolites levels, suggesting the use of either of these naphthalene glycosides as markers for official Senna drugs authentication.


This study provides the first comparative metabolomics approach utilizing NMR and UPLC–MS to reveal for secondary metabolite compositional differences in Senna preparations that could readily be applied as a reliable quality control model for its analysis.


Senna alexandrina NMR UPLC–MS Metabolomics Principal component analysis Laxative 



Prof. Mohamed A. Farag thanks The American University in Cairo Research Support Grant (SSE-CHEM-MF-FY18-FY19-RG-(1-18)-2017-10-16-26-34) and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany, for financial support.

Author contributions

MAF conducted the experiments; MAF performed the data analysis, ASS, SEA co-wrote the manuscript; ASS and AP analysed NMR results and revised assignments, MAF and LAW designed the study and edited the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human and animal participants

This article does not contain any studies with human and/or animal participants performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

11306_2019_1538_MOESM1_ESM.docx (318 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 319 kb)


  1. Burnett, A. R., & Thomson, R. H. (1968). Naturally occurring quinones. Part XIII. Anthraquinones and related naphthalenic compounds in Galium spp. and in Asperula odorata. Journal of the Chemical Society C, 854–857.
  2. Demirezer, L. O., Karahan, N., Ucakturk, E., Kuruuzum-Uz, A., Guvenalp, Z., & Kazaz, C. (2011). HPLC fingerprinting of sennosides in laxative drugs with isolation of standard substances from some Senna leaves. Records of Natural Products, 5(4), 261–270.Google Scholar
  3. El-Ahmady, S. H., & Ashour, M. L. (2016). 24—Advances in testing for adulteration of food supplements—Downey, Gerard, advances in food authenticity testing (pp. 667–699). Sawston: Woodhead Publishing.Google Scholar
  4. Farag, M. A. (2014). Comparative mass spectrometry & nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomic approaches for nutraceuticals quality control analysis: A brief review. Recent Patents on Biotechnology, 8(1), 17–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Farag, M. A., Otify, A., Porzel, A., Michel, C. G., Elsayed, A., & Wessjohann, L. A. (2016a). Comparative metabolite profiling and fingerprinting of genus Passiflora leaves using a multiplex approach of UPLC-MS and NMR analyzed by chemometric tools. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 408(12), 3125–3143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Farag, M. A., Porzel, A., Mahrous, E. A., El-Massry, M. M., & Wessjohann, L. A. (2015). Integrated comparative metabolite profiling via MS and NMR techniques for Senna drug quality control analysis. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 407(7), 1937–1949.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Farag, M. A., Rasheed, D. M., Kropf, M., & Heiss, A. G. (2016b). Metabolite profiling in Trigonella seeds via UPLC-MS and GC-MS analyzed using multivariate data analyses. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 408(28), 8065–8078.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gad, H. A., El-Ahmady, S. H., Abou-Shoer, M. I., & Al-Azizi, M. M. (2013). Application of chemometrics in authentication of herbal medicines: A review. Phytochemical Analysis: PCA, 24(1), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ganapaty, S., Thomas, P. S., Ramana, K. V., Vidyadhar, K., & Chakradhar, V. (2002). A review of phytochemical studies of Cassia species. Journal of Natural Remedies, 2(2), 102–120.Google Scholar
  10. Gautam, R., Srivastava, A., & Jachak, S. M. (2011). Simultaneous determination of naphthalene and anthraquinone derivatives in Rumex nepalensis Spreng roots by HPLC: Comparison of different extraction methods and validation. Phytochemical Analysis: PCA, 22(2), 153–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kim, H. K., Choi, Y. H., & Verpoorte, R. (2011). NMR-based plant metabolomics: Where do we stand, where do we go? Trends in Biotechnology, 29(6), 267–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Korulkin, D. Y., & Muzychkina, R. A. (2014). Biosynthesis and metabolism of anthraquinone derivatives. International Journal of Medical, Health, Biomedical, Bioengineering and Pharmaceutical Engineering, 8(7), 454–457.Google Scholar
  13. Lee, J.-E., Lee, B.-J., Chung, J.-O., Hwang, J.-A., Lee, S.-J., Lee, C.-H., et al. (2010). Geographical and climatic dependencies of green tea (Camellia sinensis) metabolites: A 1H NMR-based metabolomics study. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58(19), 10582–10589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lemli, J., Toppet, S., Cuveele, J., & Janssen, G. (1981). Naphthalene glycosides in Cassia senna and Cassia angustifolia. Planta Medica, 43(1), 11–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Liu, J., Liu, Y., Zhao, L., Zhang, Z.-H., & Tang, Z.-H. (2016). Profiling of ginsenosides in the two medicinal Panax herbs based on ultra-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization–mass spectrometry. SpringerPlus, 5(1), 1770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mahrous, E. A., & Farag, M. A. (2015). Two dimensional NMR spectroscopic approaches for exploring plant metabolome: A review. Journal of Advanced Research, 6(1), 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Seethapathy, G. S., Ganesh, D., Santhosh Kumar, J. U., Senthilkumar, U., Newmaster, S. G., Ragupathy, S., et al. (2015). Assessing product adulteration in natural health products for laxative yielding plants, Cassia, Senna, and Chamaecrista, in Southern India using DNA barcoding. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 129(4), 693–700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Shelar, P. A., Jawlikar, B. V., Mohite, M. S., Raje, V. N., Thorata, M. B., & Tikole, S. S. (2013). Comparative study of isolated moiety from Senna leaves, pods and powder. Current Pharma Research, 3(4), 1019–1022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sun, S.-W., & Su, H.-T. (2002). Validated HPLC method for determination of sennosides A and B in senna tablets. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 29(5), 881–894.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Takahashi, M., Sakurai, K., Fujii, H., & Saito, K. (2012). Discrimination of Cassia plants in health tea. Japanese Journal of Food Chemistry and Safety, 19(2), 149–154.Google Scholar
  21. Takahashi, M., Sakurai, K., Fujii, H., & Saito, K. (2014). Identification of indicator components for the discrimination of Cassia plants in health teas and development of analytical method for the components. Journal of AOAC International, 97(4), 1195–1201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Terreaux, C., Wang, Q., Ioset, J. R., Ndjoko, K., Grimminger, W., & Hostettmann, K. (2002). Complete LC/MS analysis of a Tinnevelli senna pod extract and subsequent isolation and identification of two new benzophenone glucosides. Planta Medica, 68(4), 349–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Yao, S., Li, Y., & Kong, L. (2006). Preparative isolation and purification of chemical constituents from the root of Polygonum multiflorum by high-speed counter-current chromatography. Journal of Chromatography A, 1115(1), 64–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohamed A. Farag
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Amira S. El Senousy
    • 1
  • Sherweit H. El-Ahmady
    • 3
  • Andrea Porzel
    • 4
  • Ludger A. Wessjohann
    • 4
  1. 1.Pharmacognosy Department, College of PharmacyCairo UniversityCairoEgypt
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, School of Sciences & EngineeringThe American University in CairoCairoEgypt
  3. 3.Pharmacognosy Department, College of PharmacyAin Shams UniversityCairoEgypt
  4. 4.Department of Bioorganic ChemistryLeibniz Institute of Plant BiochemistryHalle (Saale)Germany

Personalised recommendations