Discovery of terpenoid and phenolic sweeteners from plants*
A. Douglas Kinghorn** and Djaja Djendoel Soejarto
Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical
Sciences and Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, College
of Pharmacy (M/C 781), University of Illinois at Chicago, 833 South
Wood Street, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
Abstract: Several plant-derived compounds of the terpenoid
and phenolic types have commercial use as sweeteners. In our research
program directed toward the discovery of additional sweet compounds
of these chemical classes, candidate sweet plants for laboratory investigation
may be selected after scrutiny of the available literature, as a result
of making inquiries in the field, and/or from a limited amount of organoleptic
testing. Sweet-tasting plants are extracted according to a standard
protocol, and preliminary safety testing is conducted before crude extracts
or pure compounds are tasted. The practicality of using Mongolian gerbil
electrophysiological and behavioral assays to monitor plant extracts
and pure isolates has been examined. A number of sweet-tasting, plant-derived
terpenoids and phenolics have been isolated and characterized, including
the bisabolane sesquiterpenoids, hernandulcin and
4b-hydroxyhernandulcin, the labdane diterpene
glycoside, gaudichaudioside A, the oleanane triterpenoid glycoside,
periandrin V, the cycloartane triterpene glycosides, abrusosides AE,
the 3,4-seco-dammarane triterpene glycosides, pterocaryosides
A and B, the semisynthetic dihydroflavonol, dihydroquercetin 3-acetate
(4'-methyl ether), and the proanthocyanidin, selligueain A. Most of
these new compounds are prototype "high-intensity" sweeteners
that may be worthy targets for chemical synthesis or for semi-synthetic
modification to produce substances with enhanced sweetness properties.
* A special topic issue on the
science of sweeteners.
** Corresponding author. E-mail [email protected].
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