Lonicera japonica Thunb., commonly referred to as honeysuckle or Jin Yin Hua in Chinese, produces abundant fragrant flowers. Dried flowers and buds of honeysuckles are known as Flos Lonicerae, which has been a famous herb of traditional Chinese medicine for more than 1500 years (Li et al., 2015). Flos Lonicerae have been used to treat arthritis, diabetes mellitus, fever, and viral infections (Li et al., 2015; Shang et al., 2011). A total of 140 chemical compounds have been isolated from Flos Lonicerae ranging from essential oils, organic acids, flavones, saponins, and iridoids (Lee et al., 1998; Li et al., 2015; Palacios et al., 2002; Shang et al., 2011). Because different species and cultivars or even the same cultivar produced in different geographical locations vary in concentrations of these chemical compounds, the Chinese Pharmacopoeia (Committee for the Pharmacopoeia of People’s Republic of China, 2015) recommended using the content of 5-O-caffeoyl-quinic acid or chlorogenic acid (CGA) and luteolin (3′,4′,5,7-tetrahydroxyflavone) as two indicators for evaluating the quality of Flos Lonicerae (Shang et al., 2011).
CGA has multiple pharmacological actions including antioxidation, antibacteria, antivirus, anti-inflammatory, and antiliver fibrosis. It can suppress N-nitrosating reactions and inhibit hepatic glucose 6-phosphatase, which is a significant factor in the abnormal diabetic state (Yang et al., 2004). CGA can strongly suppress adeno-associated 3 and 7 viruses, coxsackie B3 and B5 virus, and respiratory syncytial virus (Hu et al., 2001). In accordance with the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, Flos Lonicerae used in traditional Chinese medicine must have a CGA content greater than 1.5%. Luteolin shows antivirus actions and has been used as an influenza virus neuraminidase inhibitor (Liu et al., 2008). It also inhibits growth and migration of human lung cancer cells (Zhao et al., 2011). Flos Lonicerae used in traditional Chinese medicine must have luteolin content higher than 0.05% (Committee for the Pharmacopoeia of People’s Republic of China, 2015).
Five species have been listed by the Pharmacopoeia of China for producing Flos Lonicerae: L. confuse DC., L. fulvotomentosa Hsu et S.C. Cheng, L. japonica, L. hypoglauca Miq., and L. macranthoides Hands-Mazz. A major breeding effort in China is to increase both CGA and luteolin contents in lonicera flowers. The current focus has been primarily on L. japonica and L. macranthoides. Wang et al. (2004, 2009a) isolated three naturally occurring mutants: ‘Jincuilei’, ‘Yincuilei’, and ‘Baiyun’ from L. macranthoides in Hunan province, China, and later ‘Longhua’ (Chen et al., 2013) and ‘Huayao-Wanshou’ (Wang et al., 2013) were selected from L. macranthoides. This article reports a new cultivar Fenglei, a selection from L. japonica.
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