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In the study of natural products new strategies which favor a holistic approach, integrating the traditional reductionist methods usually employed, have been proposed. In this frame, the studies carried out by us in the last decade show that fingerprints, mainly obtained by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), lead to the characterization of natural extracts from different botanical species but also of phytotherapeutic products constituted by mixtures of extracts from different plants. Laser desorption ionization and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization techniques were also employed and by the use of different matrices some complementary results were achieved. Results obtained by standard spectrophotometric and liquid chromatography methods were compared with those achieved by direct infusion of the extract in ESI-MS conditions, indicating an excellent agreement between the two approaches. The findings of these researches were considered in the frame of complex systems theory, investigating how relationships between a system's parts can give rise to its collective behaviors and how the system interacts and forms relationships with its environment. In this view, the peculiar pharmacological behavior of biologically active natural compounds can be justified by the occurrence of molecular interactions due to the high complexity of the natural matrix. Some of these interactions have been widely studied in the case of green tea extracts (GTEs) proving unequivocally the presence of caffeine/catechin complexes in GTE samples. The presence of bimolecular complexes has been observed also in the case of Ceylon tea and Mate extracts. These data indicate that the formation of complexes in natural extracts is a common behavior and their presence must be considered in the description of natural extracts and, consequently, in their biological activity. ©2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Mass Spec Rev.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Mass spectrometry reviews
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