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Abstract

A total of nine sesquiterpenoid lactones together with phenolic compounds and other terpenes were identified from the crude methanol extract of Elephantopus mollis Kunth. Compounds were isolated using different chromatographic techniques and their structures were determined by NMR and IR spectroscopy as well as mass spectrometry. The structures of some detected compounds were assigned based on LC-ToF-ESI-MS screening of main fractions/subfractions from flash chromatography and comparison with isolated analogues as standards. The findings revealed not only the in-source loss of water as the base peak in hirsutinolides but also the in-source loss of corresponding alcohol when the oxygen at position 1 is alkylated. The present study also draws up a complement of data with respect to hirsutinolide-like sesquiterpene lactones whose LC-MS characteristics are not available in the literature. The chemophenetic significance is also discussed. Some of the isolated compounds were reported for the first time to be found in the species, the genus as well as the plant family. The medium-polar fractions of the crude extract, also containing the larger amount of sesquiterpenoid lactones, exhibited activity both against a cancer cell line and bacterial strains. Isolated lactones were also active against the cancer cell line, while the chlorogenic derivatives also valuable in Elephantopus genus showed potent radical scavenging activity. This is the first report of cytotoxic and antibacterial activities of our samples against the tested strains and cell line. The present study follows the ongoing research project dealing with the characterization of taxa with antibacterial and antiparasitic activities from Cameroonian pharmacopeia.