Department of Pharmacognosy
The history of the Department of Pharmacognosy begins in 1922, when the University of Lithuania was established in Kaunas. A combined Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacognosy was established in the section of Pharmacy of the Faculty of Medicine. In 1932, the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacognosy was established in the building of the Faculty of Medicine (A. Mickevicius str. 9). In 1978, during reorganisation of the departments of the Faculty, the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, which existed until 2008, was established. In 2008, it was reorganised into an independent Department of Pharmacognosy. Today, the Department of Pharmacognosy employs 4 professors, 2 associate professors and 3 lecturers.
The Department participates in the following study programmes of the Faculty of Pharmacy: “Pharmacy”, “Pharmacy for international students” and “Pharmacy technicians”. The staff of the Department deliver the following disciplines: the discipline of basic pharmaceutical botany for the first year students of the Faculty of Pharmacy, profile disciplines of pharmacognosy for the third year students of the Faculty of Pharmacy, chemical research on phytopreparations for the fifth year students of the Faculty of Pharmacy and elective disciplines “Drugs of plant origin” and “Food supplements of plant origin” for the fourth year students of the Faculty of Pharmacy. PhD studies are available in the Department. Currently, there are two PhD students in the Department.
The scientific work area of the Department involves investigations into the chemical composition of plant origin raw materials and herbal preparations. The area of research covers development, optimisation and application of HPLC methods. New modern informative analysis methods characterised by high selectivity and informational capability are being developed and validated for the chemical evaluation of the groups of biologically active compounds in raw materials of plant origin. The reseach on the composition and variation of phenolic compounds in raw materials of Sorbus L. is performed in the Department. Analytical HPLC methods are being developed, optimised and applied for the phytochemical composition analysis of the rowans (Sorbus L.) that naturally grow in Lithuania and are cultivated in collections. The study on antioxidant activity and phytochemical composition of samples of different varieties of apples is undertaken, too. HPLC methods for the analysis of phytochemical composition (phenolic acids, flavonoids, catechins) are developed and applied for the research of different samples of apple varieties that are grown in Lithuania. HPLC post-column assays are developed and optimised. Post-column reaction assay is perspective in applicational point of view due to wide practice in analytical and chemometrical bioactivity evaluation as well as in pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industries. Besides, the scientific research on optimisation of equipment complementation and system constitution for the screening of various antioxidants of plant origin, for the evaluation of their distribution in different plant organs, and for quality control by antioxidant activity is performed. DPPH and ABTS post-column assays are optimised for the rapid identification and activity determination of antioxidants in complex mixtures after the chromatographical separation of analytes. The reseach evaluating antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds in the extracts of herbal raw materials is conducted as well. The scientific research on biological activity of flavonoids and phenolic acids in various plant origin raw materials in vitro and in vivo is performed. The scientific knowledge on medicinal plants, their effect variability and usage perspectives is compiled, accumulated and systematised. The study of flavonoids and phenolic acids on cellular energetics and ischaemia/reperfusion injury in vitro and in vivo is in progress. The mechanism of ischaemia/reperfusion action on kidney mitochondria is under research, too. The effect of biologically active compounds (flavonoids, phenolic acids and others) on the oxidative phosphorylation of mitochondria, antioxidant properties and possibilities to protect mitochondria from detrimental effects of the oxidative stress, is studied in the Department.
Scientists of the Department cooperate with Lithuanian scientific and academic institutions:
- Cultivation conditions of introduced and cultivated plants are investigated in cooperation with research scientists of Kaunas Botanical Garden of Vytautas Magnus University.
- Research into medicinal herbal raw materials is performed in collaboration with the Institute of Horticulture of Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry.
- Quantitative and qualitative composition of essential oils is studied in cooperation with the Department of Food Technology of Kaunas University of Technology.
- Effects of dry extracts of medicinal herbal raw materials on rat heart mitochondrial functions are investigated in cooperation with the laboratory of biochemistry of the Neuroscience Institute.