Identification of salicylates in willow bark (Salix cortex) for targeting peripheral inflammation

Kyriaki Antoniadou, Corinna Herz, Nguyen Phan Khoi Le, Verena Karolin Mittermeier-Kleßinger, Nadja Förster, Matthias Zander, Christian Ulrichs, Inga Mewis, Thomas Hofmann, Corinna Dawid, Evelyn Lamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Salix cortex-containing medicine is used against pain conditions, fever, headaches, and inflammation, which are partly mediated via arachidonic acid-derived prostaglandins (PGs). We used an activity-guided fractionation strategy, followed by structure elucidation experiments using LC-MS/MS, CD-spectroscopy, and 1D/2D NMR techniques, to identify the compounds relevant for the inhibition of PGE2 release from activated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Subsequent compound purification by means of preparative and semipreparative HPLC revealed 2-O-acetylsalicortin (1), 3-O-acetylsalicortin (2), 2-O-acetylsalicin (3), 2,6-O-diacetylsalicortin (4), lasiandrin (5), tremulacin (6), and cinnamrutinose A (7). In contrast to 3 and 7, compounds 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 showed inhibitory activity against PGE2 release with different potencies. Polyphenols were not relevant for the bioactivity of the Salix extract but salicylates, which degrade to, e.g., catechol, salicylic acid, salicin, and/or 1-hydroxy-6-oxo-2-cycohexenecarboxylate. Inflammation presents an important therapeutic target for pharmacological interventions; thus, the identification of relevant key drugs in Salix could provide new prospects for the improvement and standardization of existing clinical medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11138
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number20
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2021


  • Anti-inflammation
  • Catechol
  • Herbal medicine
  • Pain
  • Phytopharmaceutical
  • Salicylates
  • Salix
  • Willow bark extract


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