Icaritin Preparation from Icariin by a Special Epimedium Flavonoid-Glycosidase from Aspergillus sp.y848 Strain

J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2022 Apr 28;32(4):437-446. doi: 10.4014/jmb.2112.12036.


In this study, to obtain icaritin with high pharmacological activities from icariin, which has a content ratio of over 58% in the total flavonoids of Epimedium herb, a special Epimedium flavonoid-glycosidase was produced, purified and characterized from Aspergillus sp.y848 strain. The optimal enzyme production was gained in a medium containing 5% (w/v) wheat bran extract and 0.7% (w/v) Epimedium leaf powder as the enzyme inducer, and strain culture at 30°C for 6-7 days. The molecular weight of the enzyme was approximately 73.2 kDa; the optimal pH and temperature were 5.0 and 40°C. The enzyme Km and Vmax values for icariin were 15.63 mM and 55.56 mM/h. Moreover, the enzyme hydrolyzed the 7-O-glucosides of icariin into icariside II, and finally hydrolyzed 3-O-rhamnoside of icariside II into icaritin. The enzyme also hydrolyzed 7-O-glucosides of epimedin B to sagittatoside B, and then further hydrolyzed terminal 3-O-xyloside of sagittatoside B to icarisiede II, before finally hydrolyzing 3-O-rhamnoside of icarisiede II into icaritin. The enzyme only hydrolyzed 7-O-glucoside of epimedin A or epimedin C into sagittatoside A or sagittatoside C. It is possible to prepare icaritin from the high-content icariin in Epimedium herb using this enzyme. When 2.5% icariin was reacted at 40°C for 18-20 h by the low-cost crude enzyme, 5.04 g icaritin with 98% purity was obtained from 10 g icariin. Also, the icaritin molar yield was 92.5%. Our results showed icaritin was successfully produced via cost-effective and relatively simple methods from icariin by crude enzyme. Our results should be very useful for the development of medicines from Epimedium herb.

Keywords: Aspergillus sp.y848; Epimedium flavonoids-glycosidase; biotransformation; epimedin A, B, and C; icaritin.

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus
  • Epimedium* / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Glucosides
  • Glycoside Hydrolases


  • Flavonoids
  • Glucosides
  • Glycoside Hydrolases
  • icaritin
  • icariin