The methanolic extracts of several natural medicines and medicinal foodstuffs were found to show an inhibitory effect on rat lens aldose reductase. In most cases, flavonoids were isolated as the active constituents by bioassay-guided separation, and among them, quercitrin (IC50=0.15 μM), guaijaverin (0.18 μM), and desmanthin-1 (0.082 μM) exhibited potent inhibitory activity. Desmanthin-1 showed the most potent activity, which was equivalent to that of a commercial synthetic aldose reductase inhibitor, epalrestat (0.072 μM). In order to clarify the structural requirements of flavonoids for aldose reductase inhibitory activity, various flavonoids and related compounds were examined. The results suggested the following structural requirements of flavonoid: 1) the flavones and flavonols having the 7-hydroxyl and/or catechol moiety at the B ring (the 3′,4′-dihydroxyl moiety) exhibit the strong activity; 2) the 5-hydroxyl moiety does not affect the activity; 3) the 3-hydroxyl and 7-O-glucosyl moieties reduce the activity; 4) the 2–3 double bond enhances the activity; 5) the flavones and flavonols having the catechol moiety at the B ring exhibit stronger activity than those having the pyrogallol moiety (the 3′,4′,5′-trihydroxyl moiety).
2002 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan