Bioactive Phytochemicals from Wild Arbutus unedo L. Berries from Different Locations in Portugal: Quantification of Lipophilic Components

Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Jun 23;16(6):14194-209. doi: 10.3390/ijms160614194.


The lipophilic composition of wild Arbutus unedo L. berries, collected from six locations in Penacova (center of Portugal), as well as some general chemical parameters, namely total soluble solids, pH, titratable acidity, total phenolic content and antioxidant activity was studied in detail to better understand its potential as a source of bioactive compounds. The chemical composition of the lipophilic extracts, focused on the fatty acids, triterpenoids, sterols, long chain aliphatic alcohols and tocopherols, was investigated by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of the dichloromethane extracts. The lipophilic extractives of the ripe A. unedo berries ranged from 0.72% to 1.66% (w/w of dry weight), and consisted mainly of triterpenoids, fatty acids and sterols. Minor amounts of long chain aliphatic alcohols and tocopherols were also identified. Forty-one compounds were identified and among these, ursolic acid, lupeol, α-amyrin, linoleic and α-linolenic acids, and β-sitosterol were highlighted as the major components. To the best of our knowledge the current research study provides the most detailed phytochemical repository for the lipophilic composition of A. unedo, and offers valuable information for future valuation and exploitation of these berries.

Keywords: Arbutus unedo L.; GC–MS analysis; fatty acids; lipophilic composition; ripe berries; sterols; triterpenoids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ericaceae / chemistry*
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Phytochemicals / analysis*
  • Phytosterols / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / analysis*


  • Lipids
  • Phytochemicals
  • Phytosterols
  • Plant Extracts