Fringed sagewort (Artemisia frigida Willd., Compositae family) is a well-known medicinal plant in Asian medical systems. Fifty-nine hydroxycinnamates and flavonoids have been found in A. frigida herbs of Siberian origin by high-performance liquid chromatography with diode array and electrospray triple quadrupole mass detection (HPLC-DAD-ESI-QQQ-MS). Their structures were determined after mass fragmentation analysis as caffeoylquinic acids, flavone O-/C-glycosides, flavones, and flavonol aglycones. Most of the discovered components were described in A. frigida for the first time. It was shown that flavonoids with different types of substitution have chemotaxonomic significance for species of Artemisia subsection Frigidae (section Absinthium). After HPLC-DAD quantification of 16 major phenolics in 21 Siberian populations of A. frigida and subsequent principal component analysis, we found substantial variation in the selected compounds, suggesting the existence of two geographical groups of A. frigida. The antioxidant activity of A. frigida herbal tea was determined using 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl free radical (DPPH•) and hydrophilic/lipophilic oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assays and DPPH•-HPLC profiling, revealing it to be high. The effect of digestive media on the phenolic profile and antioxidant capacity of A. frigida herbal tea was assessed under simulated gastrointestinal digestion. We found a minor reduction in caffeoylquinic acid content and ORAC values, but remaining levels were satisfactory for antioxidant protection. These results suggest that A. frigida and its food derivate herbal tea could be recommended as new plant antioxidants rich in phenolics.
Keywords: Artemisia frigida; Compositae (Asteraceae); HPLC; ORAC; antioxidant capacity; caffeoylquinic acids; chemotaxonamy; flavonoids; mass spectrometry.