10 Sep 2022



A very thorough study of the components of the strawberry has shown for the first time that agrimoniin, a natural tannin (ellagitannin) used widely in traditional Asian medicine and studied for astringent, antihemorrhagic, antimalarial, and anticancer properties, is present in this fruit in large quantities.

This important scientific discovery by researchers at the Food Quality and Nutrition Department of the Edmund Mach Foundation of San Michele all'Adige was recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

According to the research, the subject of a dissertation in Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Padua's Faculty of Pharmacy by Trentino student Elisa Pojer, agrimoniin is the most important ellagitannin found in strawberries and wild strawberries, and is present in the dose of 200 milligrams per kilogram of fruit.


Until now, the importance of this active ingredient, first isolated in 1982 in a perennial medicinal plant growing in the East (Agrimonia pilosa Ledeb), was completely unexplored in human nutrition and ignored by nutritional databases. It was mistakenly believed that the main ellagitannin in strawberries was instead another structure, called "sanguiin H6."


The St. Michael's team of researchers, as part of a targeted year-long project that also involved Graziano Guella of the University of Trento and Mirella Zancato of the University of Padua, extracted and purified agrimoniin using preparative chromatography techniques from the ripe fruit of the wild strawberry, Fragaria vesca.

Its structure was characterized in detail through nuclear magnetic resonance experiments, mass spectrometry and other spectroscopic techniques. A chromatographic method for fruit analysis was developed, and it was possible to confirm that in both strawberry (variety Darselect) and strawberry agrimoniin is present in very high amounts (hundreds of mg/kg) and is by far the most important ellagitannin present in the fruit.


"This is a very important piece of research," explains Urska Vrhovsek of the Research and Innovation Center, "because it has demonstrated the presence of a natural active ingredient that is probably the most commonly found ellagitannin in the Western diet, and it is specific to strawberries. Knowledge of the structure of this compound will now allow us to study its bioavailability, metabolism, and mechanisms of action."


Regarding further developments, further studies are underway to ascertain its presence in the main cultivated varieties, its variation in concentration as the fruit ripens, and, in collaboration with the University of Milan, its mechanism of action in relation to anti-malarial activity.

Source: E. Mach

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