The female flowers of hops (Humulus lupulus L.) are used as a flavoring agent in the brewing industry. There is growing interest in possible health benefits of hops, particularly as estrogenic and chemopreventive agents. Among the possible active constituents, most of the attention has focused on prenylated flavonoids, which can chemically be classified as prenylated chalcones and prenylated flavanones. Among chalcones, xanthohumol (XN) and desmethylxanthohumol (DMX) have been the most studied, while among flavanones, 8-prenylnaringenin (8-PN) and 6- prenylnaringenin (6-PN) have received the most attention.
Because of the interest in medicinal properties of prenylated flavonoids, there is demand for accurate, reproducible and sensitive analytical methods to quantify these compounds in various matrices. Such methods are needed, for example, for quality control and standardization of hop extracts, measurement of the content of prenylated flavonoids in beer, and to determine pharmacokinetic properties of prenylated flavonoids in animals and humans. This review summarizes currently available analytical methods for quantitative analysis of the major prenylated flavonoids, with an emphasis on the LC-MS and LC-MS-MS methods and their recent applications to biomedical research on hops. This review covers all methods in which prenylated flavonoids have been measured, either as the primary analytes or as a part of a larger group of analytes. The review also discusses methodological issues relating to the quantitative analysis of these compounds regardless of the chosen analytical approach.