This study centered on detecting potentially anti-inflammatory active constituents in ethanolic extracts of Chinese Lonicera species by taking an UHPLC-HRMS-based metabolite profiling approach. Extracts from eight different Lonicera species were subjected to both UHPLC-HRMS analysis and to pharmacological testing in three different cellular inflammation-related assays. Compounds exhibiting high correlations in orthogonal projections to latent structures discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA) of pharmacological and MS data served as potentially activity-related candidates. Of these candidates, 65 were tentatively or unambiguously annotated. 7-Hydroxy-5,3',4',5'-tetramethoxyflavone and three bioflavonoids, as well as three C32- and one C34-acetylated polyhydroxy fatty acid, were isolated from Lonicera hypoglauca leaves for the first time, and their structures were fully or partially elucidated. Of the potentially active candidate compounds, 15 were subsequently subjected to pharmacological testing. Their activities could be experimentally verified in part, emphasizing the relevance of Lonicera species as a source of anti-inflammatory active constituents. However, some compounds also impaired the cell viability. Overall, the approach was found useful to narrow down the number of potentially bioactive constituents in the complex extracts investigated. In the future, the application of more refined concepts, such as extract prefractionation combined with bio-chemometrics, may help to further enhance the reliability of candidate selection.
Keywords: Lonicera; OPLS-DA; UHPLC-HRMS; anti-inflammatory; honeysuckle; metabolite profiling; multivariate data analysis; traditional Chinese medicine.