The rhizome of Reynoutria japonica is a well-known traditional herb (Hu zhang) used in East Asia to treat various inflammatory diseases, infections, skin diseases, scald, and hyperlipidemia. It is also one of the richest natural sources of resveratrol. Although, it has been recently included in the European Pharmacopoeia, in Europe it is still an untapped resource. Some of the therapeutic effects are likely to be influenced by its antioxidant properties and this in turn is frequently associated with a high stilbene content. However, compounds other than stilbenes may add to the total antioxidant capacity. Hence, the aim of this research was to examine rhizomes of R. japonica and the less studied but morphologically similar species, R. sachalinensis and R. x bohemica for their phytochemical composition and antioxidant activity and to clarify the relationship between the antioxidant activity and the components by statistical methods. HPLC/UV/ESI-MS studies of three Reynoutria species revealed 171 compounds, comprising stilbenes, carbohydrates, procyanidins, flavan-3-ols, anthraquinones, phenylpropanoids, lignin oligomers, hydroxycinnamic acids, naphthalenes and their derivatives. Our studies confirmed the presence of procyanidins with high degree of polymerization, up to decamers, in the rhizomes of R. japonica and provides new data on the presence of these compounds in other Reynoutria species. A procyanidin trimer digallate was described for the first time in, the studied plants. Moreover, we tentatively identified dianthrone glycosides new for these species and previously unrecorded phenylpropanoid disaccharide esters and hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives. Furthermore, compounds tentatively annotated as lignin oligomers were observed for the first time in the studied species. The rhizomes of all Reynoutria species exhibited strong antioxidant activity. Statistical analysis demonstrated that proanthocyanidins should be considered as important contributors to the total antioxidant capacity.
Keywords: Polygoni cuspidati rhizoma; mass spectrometry; proanthocyanidins; stilbenoids.