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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Phytochemical profiles, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of three Potentilla species

Shan-Shan Wang, Dong-Mei Wang*, Wen-Jun Pu and Deng-Wu Li

Author Affiliations

College of Forestry, Northwest A & F University, Yangling, Shannxi 712100, China

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:321  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-321

Published: 19 November 2013



Extracts from Potentilla species have been applied in traditional medicine and exhibit antioxidant, hypoglycemic, anti-inflammatory, antitumor and anti-ulcerogenic properties, but little has been known about the diversity of phytochemistry and pharmacology on this genus. This study investigated and compared the phytochemical profiles, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of leaf extracts from three Potentilla species (Potentilla fruticosa, Potentilla glabra and Potentilla parvifolia) in order to discover new resources for lead structures and pharmaceutical products.


Chemical composition and content of six phenolic compounds were evaluated and determined by RP-HPLC; Total phenolic and total flavonoid content were determined using Folin-Ciocalteau colourimetric method and sodium borohydride/chloranil-based method (SBC); Antioxidant activities were determined using DPPH, ABTS and FRAP assays; Antimicrobial properties were investigated by agar dilution and mycelial growth rate method.


The results showed hyperoside was the predominant phenolic compound in three Potentilla species by RP-HPLC assay, with the content of 8.86 (P. fruticosa), 2.56 (P. glabra) and 2.68 mg/g (P. parvifolia), respectively. The highest content of total identified phenolic compounds (hyperoside, (+)-catechin, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, rutin and ellagic acid) was observed in P. parvifolia (14.17 mg/g), follow by P. fruticosa (10.01 mg/g) and P. glabra (7.01 mg/g). P. fruticosa possessed the highest content of total phenolic (84.93 ± 0.50 mmol gallic acid equivalent/100 g) and total flavonoid (84.14 ± 0.03 mmol quercetin equivalent/100 g), which were in good correlation with its significant DPPHIC50 (16.87 μg/mL), ABTS (2763.48 μmol Trolox equivalent/g) and FRAP (1398.70 μmol Trolox equivalent/g) capacities. Furthermore, the effective methodology to distinguish the different species of Potentilla was also established by chromatographic fingerprint analysis for the first time. The results of antimicrobial activities showed P. fruticosa exhibited the strongest inhibition aganist Gram-positive bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans with MIC values of 0.78–6.25 mg/mL. P. parvifolia possessed antibacterial and antifungal activities against all the microorganisms tested, with EC50 and MIC values of 20.52–47.02 mg/mL and 0.78–50 mg/mL, respectively.


These results indicated that leaf extracts from three Potentilla species could become useful supplement for pharmaceutical products as a new antioxidant and antimicrobial agents.

Potentilla spp; Phytochemicals; Antioxidant activity; Antimicrobial activity; RP-HPLC