Authentication of ginkgo biloba herbal products by a novel quantitative real-time PCR approach

Abstract

Ginkgo biloba is a widely used medicinal plant. Due to its potential therapeutic effects, it is an ingredient in several herbal products, such as plant infusions and plant food supplements (PFS). Currently, ginkgo is one of the most popular botanicals used in PFS. Due to their popularity and high cost, ginkgo-containing products are prone to be fraudulently substituted by other plant species. Therefore, this work aimed at developing a method for G. biloba detection and quantification. A new internal transcribe spacer (ITS) marker was identified, allowing the development of a ginkgo-specific real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay targeting the ITS region, with high specificity and sensitivity, down to 0.02 pg of DNA. Additionally, a normalized real-time PCR approach using the delta cycle quantification (ΔCq) method was proposed for the effective quantification of ginkgo in plant mixtures. The method exhibited high performance parameters, namely PCR efficiency, coefficient of correlation and covered dynamic range (50-0.01%), achieving limits of detection and quantification of 0.01% (w/w) of ginkgo in tea plant (Camellia sinensis). The quantitative approach was successfully validated with blind mixtures and further applied to commercial ginkgo-containing herbal infusions. The estimated ginkgo contents of plant mixture samples suggest adulterations due to reduction or almost elimination of ginkgo. In this work, useful and robust tools were proposed to detect/quantify ginkgo in herbal products, which suggests the need for a more effective and stricter control of such products.This work was supported by FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia) under the Partnership Agreements UIDB 50006/2020 and UIDB 00690/2020. L. Grazina is grateful to FCT grant (SFRH/BD/132462/2017) financed by POPH-QREN (subsidised by FSE and MCTES).info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersio

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