Preparations of comfrey (Symphytum officinale L.) roots are used topically to reduce inflammation. Comfrey anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties have been proven in clinical studies. However, the bioactive compounds associated with these therapeutic activities are yet to be identified. An LC–ESI–Orbitrap–MSn metabolite profile of a hydroalcoholic extract of comfrey root guided the identification of 20 compounds, including a new arylnaphthalene lignan bearing a rare δ-lactone ring, named comfreyn A. Its structure was determined using extensive 2D NMR and ESI–MS experiments. Additionally, the occurrence of malaxinic acid, caffeic acid ethyl ester, along with the lignans ternifoliuslignan D, 3-carboxy-6,7-dihydroxy-1-(3′,4′-dihydroxyphenyl)-naphthalene, globoidnan A and B, and rabdosiin was reported in S. officinale for the first time. These results helped to redefine the metabolite profile of this medicinal plant. Finally, caffeic acid ethyl ester and comfreyn A were found to significantly inhibit E-selectin expression in IL-1β stimulated human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC), with EC values of 64 and 50 µM, respectively.
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