Comprehensive metabolic fingerprinting of Withania somnifera leaf and root extracts

Phytochemistry. 2010 Jul;71(10):1085-94. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2010.04.001. Epub 2010 May 17.


Profiling of metabolites is a rapidly expanding area of research for resolving metabolic pathways. Metabolic fingerprinting in medicinally important plants is critical to establishing the quality of herbal medicines. In the present study, metabolic profiling of crude extracts of leaf and root of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha), an important medicinal plant of Indian system of medicine (ISM) was carried out using NMR and chromatographic (HPLC and GC-MS) techniques. A total of 62 major and minor primary and secondary metabolites from leaves and 48 from roots were unambiguously identified. Twenty-nine of these were common to the two tissues. These included fatty acids, organic acids, amino acids, sugars and sterol based compounds. Eleven bioactive sterol-lactone molecules were also identified. Twenty-seven of the identified metabolites were quantified. Highly significant qualitative and quantitative differences were noticed between the leaf and root tissues, particularly with respect to the secondary metabolites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism*
  • Plant Roots / metabolism*
  • Withania / metabolism*