The ellagitannins are a diverse class of hydrolyzable tannins, a type of polyphenol formed primarily from the oxidative linkage of galloyl groups in 1,2,3,4,6-pentagalloyl glucose. Ellagitannins differ from gallotannins, in that their galloyl groups are linked through C-C bonds, whereas the galloyl groups in gallotannins are linked by depside bonds.
Ellagitannins contain various numbers of hexahydroxydiphenoyl units, as well as galloyl units and/or sanguisorboyl units bounded to sugar moiety. In order to determine the quantity of every individual unit, the hydrolysis of the extracts with trifluoroacetic acid in methanol/water system is performed. Hexahydroxydiphenic acid, created after hydrolysis, spontaneously lactonized to ellagic acid, and sanguisorbic acid to sanguisorbic acid dilactone, while gallic acid remains intact.
Ellagitannins generally form macrocycles, whereas gallotannins do not.
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