An Introduction to Natural Products Isolation

  • Satyajit D. SarkerEmail author
  • Lutfun Nahar
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 864)


Natural products, well known for unique chemical diversity and bioactivity, have continued to offer templates for the development of novel scaffolds of drugs. With the remarkable developments in the areas of separation science, spectroscopic techniques, microplate-based ultrasensitive in vitro assays and high-throughput screening (HTS) technologies, natural products research has gained momentum in recent years. The pre-isolation analyses of crude extracts or fraction from different natural matrices, isolation, online detection and dereplication of natural products, studies on chemotaxonomy and biosynthesis, chemical finger-printing, quality control of herbal products, and metabolomic studies have now become much easier than ever before because of the availability of a number of modern sophisticated hyphenated techniques, e.g., GC–MS, LC–PDA, LC–MS, LC–FTIR, LC–NMR, LC–NMR–MS, and CE–MS. This introductory chapter presents a general overview of the processes involved in natural products research, starting from extraction and isolation to elucidation of the structures of purified natural products and their bioactivity.

Key words

Natural products Secondary metabolite Extraction Isolation Structure determination Bioassay 


  1. 1.
    Samuelsson G (1999) Drugs of natural origin: a textbook of pharmacognosy, 4th revised edn, Swedish Pharmaceutical Press, Stockholm, SwedenGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Sarker SD, Latif Z, Gray AI (2005) Natural products isolation: an overview. In: Sarker SD, Latif Z, Gray AI (eds) Natural products isolation, 2nd edn. Humana Press, New JerseyCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Newman DJ, Cragg GM, Snader KM (2000) The influence of natural products upon drug discovery. Nat Prod Rep 17:215–234PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chin Y-W, Balunas MJ, Chai HB, Kinghorn AD (2006) Drug discovery from natural sources. AAPS J 8:E239–E253PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Harvey AL (2008) Natural products in drug discovery. Drug Discov Today 13:894–901PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cragg GM, Newmann DJ, Snader KM (1997) Natural products in drug discovery and development. J Nat Prod 60:52–60PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lam KS (2007) New aspects of natural products in drug discovery. Trends Microbiol 15:279–289PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Nahar L, Sarker SD (2011) Steroid dimers: chemistry and applications in drug design and delivery. John Wiley & Sons, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cragg GM, Newman DJ (2001) Natural product drug discovery in the next millennium. Pharm Biol 39:8–17PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cragg GM, Newman DJ (2001) Medicinals for the millennia – the historical record. Ann N Y Acad Sci 953:3–25PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sarker SD, Nahar L, Kumarasamy Y (2007) Microtitre plate-based antibacterial assay incorporating resazurin as an indicator of cell growth, and its application in the in vitro antibacterial screening of phytochemicals. Methods 42:321–324PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kavitha A, Prabhakar P, Narashimulu M, Vijayalakshmi M, Venkateswarlu Y, Rao KV, Raju VBS (2009) Isolation, characterization and biological evaluation of bioactive metabolites from Nocardia levis MK-VL_113. Microbiol Res 165:199–210PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Konishi M, Nishio M, Saitoh K, Miyaki T, Oki T, Kawaguchi H (1989) Cispentacin, a new antifungal antibiotic I. production, isolation, physicochemical properties and structure. J Antibiot 42:1749–1755PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Sarker SD, Girault JP, Lafont R, Dinan L (1997) Ecdysteroid xylosides from Limnanthes douglasii. Phytochemistry 44:513–521, 14Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Shoeb M, Celik S, Jaspars M, Kumarasamy Y, MacManus SM, Nahar L, Thoo-Lin PK, Sarker SD (2005) Isolation, structure elucidation and bioactivity of schischkiniin, a unique indole alkaloid from the seeds of Centaurea schischkini. Tetrahedron 61:9001–9006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kuljanabhagavad T, Thongphasuk P, Chamulitrat W, Wink M (2008) Triterpene saponins from Chenopodium quinoa Willd. Phytochemistry 69:1919–1926PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Farnsworth NR (1990) The role of ethnopharmacology in drug development. In: Chadwick DJ, Marsh J (eds) Bioactive compounds from plants. John Wiley and Sons, New York, pp 2–21Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Blinov KA, Carlson D, Elyashberg ME, Martin GE, Martirosian ER, Molodtsov S, Williams AJ (2003) Computer assisted structure elucidation of natural products with limited 2D NMR data: application of the StrucEluc system. Magn Reson Chem 41:359–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Steinbeck C (2004) Recent developments in automated structure elucidation of natural products. Nat Prod Rep 21:512–518PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    ACD NMR Predictors (2010) Advanced Chemistry Development Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Accessed on 18 Jan 2011
  21. 21.
    van de Ven FJM (1995) Multidimensional NMR in liquids: basic principles and experimental methods. Wiley-VCH, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Crews P, Jaspars M, Rodriguez J (2009) Organic structure analysis. Oxford University Press, USAGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Cannell RJP (1998) How to approach the isolation of a natural product. In: Cannell RJP (ed) Natural products isolation, 1st edn. Humana Press, New Jersey, pp 1–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Takao T, Watanabe N, Yagi I, Sakata K (1994) A simple screening method for antioxidants and isolation of several antioxidants produced by marine bacteria from fish and shellfish. Biosci Biotech Biochem 58:1780–1783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kumarasamy Y, Fergusson M, Nahar L, Sarker SD (2002) Biological activity of moschamindole from Centaurea moschata. Pharm Biol 40:307–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Dinan L, Savchenko T, Whiting P, Sarker SD (1999) Plant natural products as insect steroid receptor agonists and antagonists. Pesticide Sci 55:331–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Drummond AJ, Waigh RD (2000) In: Pandalai SG (ed) Recent research developments in phytochemistry, vol 4. Research Signpost, India, pp 143–152Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Viletinck AJ, Apers S (2001) Biological screening methods in the search for pharmacologically active natural products. In: Tringali C (ed) Bioactive compounds from natural sources. Taylor and Francis, New York, USA, pp 1–30Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Baelmans R, Deharo E, Bourdy G, Muno˜z V, Quenevo C, Sauvaind M, Ginsburg H (2000) A search for natural bioactive compounds in Bolivia through a multidisciplinary approach part IV. Is a new haem polymerization inhibition test pertinent for the detection of antimalarial natural products? J Ethnopharmacol 73:271–275Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hussain AI, Anwar F, Rasheed S, Nigam PS, Janneh O, Sarker SD (2011) Composition and potential antibacterial, anticancer, antimalarial and antioxidant properties of the essential oils from two Origanum species growing in Pakistan. Braz J Pharmacog (in press)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacy, School of Applied SciencesUniversity of WolverhamptonWolverhamptonUK
  2. 2.Leicester School of PharmacyDe Montfort UniversityLeicesterUK

Personalised recommendations