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Quantitative stereoisomeric determination of phenylpropylamino alkaloids in khat (Catha edulis Forsk.) using chiral GC-MS

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Khat (Catha edulis Forsk., Celastraceae) is a perennial shrub that was introduced to Israel by Yemenite immigrants. Its young leaves are chewed for their psycho-stimulating properties. Young khat leaves contain the phenylpropylamino alkaloids (-)-cathinone [(S)-α-aminopropiophenone], (+)-cathine [(1S)(2S)-norpseudoephedrine], and (-)-norephedrine [(1R)(2S)-norephedrine] as the main active principles. A novel GC-MS analysis method for the quantitative determination of phenylpropylamino alkaloids and their putative biosynthetic precursor 1-phenylpropane-1,2- dione in khat leaves was developed. We utilized an alkaline-organic extraction, coupled with gas chromatography and a chiral permethylated beta cyclodextrin phase, to allow a full separation between the two diastereoisomers (1S)(2S)-cathine and (1R)(2 S)-norephedrine. We found a marked diversity in the phenylpropylamino alkaloid content and composition in three different locally grown accessions and the commercial cultivar ‘Mahanaim’.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Aromatic, Medicinal and Spice Crops, Newe Ya'ar Research Center, Agricultural Research Organization ; 2: Albert Katz Department of Dryland Agriculture, The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ; 3: Department of Life Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ; 4: Department of Aromatic, Medicinal and Spice Crops, Newe Ya'ar Research Center, Agricultural Research Organization


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