Isolation, Structure Elucidation and Antimicrobial Evaluation of Natural Pentacyclic Triterpenoids and Phytochemical Investigation of Different Fractions of Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Stem Bark Using LCHRMS Analysis

Essam N. Ads*, Syed I. Hassan, Saravanan Rajendrasozhan, Mona H. Hetta, Shaza H. Aly, Mohamed A. Ali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ziziphus spina-christi L. (ZSC-L) is a tree with thorny branches, belongs to the family Rhamnaceae and grows in the sub-tropics. The purpose of this research is to isolate and partially purify bioactive components from the crude ethanol extract of the stem bark of ZSC-L. Besides, bioassay-guided fractionation of ZSC-L stem bark was conducted using different solvents. The solvents were reutilized to minimize the production cost and environmental harm. In addition, the antimicrobial activities of the fractions were analyzed, followed by metabolic profiling using LC-HRMS. The n-butanol fraction showed the highest antimicrobial efficacy, so it was subjected to further purification. For the first time, two major compounds were isolated from the stem bark of ZSC-L and identified as lupane-type pentacyclic triterpenoids betulinic acid and betulin. Both compounds were used as antibacterial and anticancer agents and considered as a green product as the extraction procedure reduced the use of hazardous chemicals. Metabolic characterization of ZSC-L and its bioactive fractions were performed using LC-HR-ESI-MS and the results revealed the dereplication of 36 compounds belonging to different chemical classes. Flavonoids and triterpenes were the most prominent metabolite classes in the different fractions. The molecular docking results were obtained by studying the interaction of betulin and betulinic acid with antimicrobial receptors (4UYM, 1IYL, 1AJ2, 6J7L, 1AD4, 2VEG) to support the in vitro results. Our study highlights that Ziziphus spina-christi and its phytoconstituents, especially triterpenoids, act as a promising antimicrobial candidate in pharmaceutical and clinical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1805
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobial activity
  • Betulin
  • Betulinic acid
  • Butanol extract
  • Molecular docking
  • Zizyphus spina-christi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry

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