The chemical composition of Acacia catechu, Schinopsis balansae, and Acacia mearnsii proanthocyanidins has been determined using a novel analytical approach that rests on the concerted use of quantitative 31P NMR and two-dimensional heteronuclear NMR spectroscopy. This approach has offered significant detailed information regarding the structure and purity of these complex and often elusive proanthocyanidins. More specifically, rings A, B, and C of their flavan-3-ol units show well-defined and resolved absorbance regions in both the quantitative 31P NMR and HSQC spectra. By integrating each of these regions in the 31P NMR spectra, it is possible to identify the oxygenation patterns of the flavan-3-ol units. At the same time it is possible to acquire a fingerprint of the proanthocyanidin sample and evaluate its purity via the HSQC information. This analytical approach is suitable for both the purified natural product proanthocyanidins and their commercial analogues. Overall, this effort demonstrates the power of the concerted use of these two NMR techniques for the structural elucidation of natural products containing labile hydroxy protons and a carbon framework that can be traced out via HSQC.
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