Publications by authors named "Carmela Gerardi"

19 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Can Natural Polyphenols Help in Reducing Cytokine Storm in COVID-19 Patients?

Molecules 2020 Dec 12;25(24). Epub 2020 Dec 12.

Division Immunology, Transplantation and Infectious Diseases, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, 20132 Milan, Italy.

SARS-CoV-2 first emerged in China during late 2019 and rapidly spread all over the world. Alterations in the inflammatory cytokines pathway represent a strong signature during SARS-COV-2 infection and correlate with poor prognosis and severity of the illness. The hyper-activation of the immune system results in an acute severe systemic inflammatory response named cytokine release syndrome (CRS). No effective prophylactic or post-exposure treatments are available, although some anti-inflammatory compounds are currently in clinical trials. Studies of plant extracts and natural compounds show that polyphenols can play a beneficial role in the prevention and the progress of chronic diseases related to inflammation. The aim of this manuscript is to review the published background on the possible effectiveness of polyphenols to fight SARS-COV-2 infection, contributing to the reduction of inflammation. Here, some of the anti-inflammatory therapies are discussed and although great progress has been made though this year, there is no proven cytokine blocking agents for COVID currently used in clinical practice. In this regard, bioactive phytochemicals such as polyphenols may become promising tools to be used as adjuvants in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Such nutrients, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, associated to classical anti-inflammatory drugs, could help in reducing the inflammation in patients with COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/molecules25245888DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7763290PMC
December 2020

Strategies for Reuse of Skins Separated From Grape Pomace as Ingredient of Functional Beverages.

Front Bioeng Biotechnol 2020 26;8:645. Epub 2020 Jun 26.

CNR-ISPA, Institute of Sciences of Food Production, National Research Council, Lecce, Italy.

Wine grape pomace, the by-product of wine making, is a source of polyphenols, metals, and organic acids, and may be exploited for the production of functional beverages. Among red wines, Primitivo and Negramaro varieties possess an interesting amount of polyphenolic compounds and other chemicals. Consequently, study of the biological activity of Primitivo and Negramaro vinification by-products is of great interest as well as optimizing the extraction of its bioactive components. In order to stabilize the grape pomace, different methods of drying grape pomace were tested. After stabilization of the pomace, the grape skins were manually separated from the seeds and any woody parts. The chemical characterizations of acidified alcoholic (methanol/ethanol) and water extracts and either microwave-assisted or ultrasound-assisted extractions of separated grape skins were compared. Besides that, the antioxidant activity of wine pomace skin extracts was also investigated as Trolox equivalents antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). Overall, the alcoholic extractions were found to be the most effective for recovering phenolic compounds, when compared with those in water. Ultrasound- and microwave-assisted extraction of pomace skin using acidified water allowed the highest TEAC value. Taking into account the water extraction result, in order to reuse grape pomace skins to produce a functional beverage, we utilized them in combination with black tea, karkadè ( L.), or rooibos ( Burm.) to produce an infusion. The combination of grape skins and black tea showed the highest ratio of total phenol content to antioxidant activity. Moreover, skin isolated from pomace, with or without black tea infusions, were shown to have anti-inflammatory capacity in human cell culture. Our results raise the value of grape skin pomace as a rich source of bioactive compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity and suggest its exploitation as an ingredient for functional beverages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fbioe.2020.00645DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7333169PMC
June 2020

Selection of tomato landraces with high fruit yield and nutritional quality under elevated temperatures.

J Sci Food Agric 2020 Apr 29;100(6):2791-2799. Epub 2020 Feb 29.

Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.

Background: Global warming and extreme or adverse events induced by climatic fluctuations are an important threat for plants growth and agricultural production. Adaptability to environmental changes prevalently derives from a large set of genetic traits affecting physiological and agronomic parameters. Therefore, the identification of genotypes that are good yield performer at high temperatures is becoming increasingly necessary for future breeding programs. Here, we analyzed the performances of different tomato landraces grown under elevated temperatures in terms of yield and nutritional quality of the fruit. Finally, we evaluated the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of fruit extracts from the tomato landraces selected.

Results: The tomato landraces analyzed here in a hot climate differed in terms of yield performance, physicochemical parameters of fruit (pH, titratable acidity, degrees Brix, firmness), bioactive compounds (ascorbic acid, carotenoids, and polyphenols), and anti-inflammatory potential. Three of these landraces (named E30, E94, and PDVIT) showed higher fruit quality and nutritional value. An estimated evaluation index allowed identification of PDVIT as the best performer in terms of yield and fruit quality under high temperatures.

Conclusion: The analyses performed here highlight the possibility to identify new landraces that can combine good yield performances and fruit nutritional quality at high temperatures, information that is useful for future breeding programs. © 2020 The Authors. Journal of The Science of Food and Agriculture published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.10312DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7187367PMC
April 2020

Nutraceutical Characterization of Anthocyanin-Rich Fruits Produced by "Sun Black" Tomato Line.

Front Nutr 2019 28;6:133. Epub 2019 Aug 28.

Department of Chemistry, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Tomato ( L.) is one of the most cultivated vegetable in the world and it represents a large source of bioactive compounds, including carotenoids and polyphenols (phenolic acids and flavonoids). However, the concentration of flavonoids in tomato is considered sub-optimal, particularly because anthocyanins are not generally present. Therefore, this crop has been the object of an intense metabolic engineering in order to obtain anthocyanin-enriched tomatoes by using either breeding or transgenic strategies. Some wild tomato species, such as and , biosynthesize anthocyanins in the fruit sub-epidermal tissue, and some alleles from those genotypes have been introgressed into a new developed purple tomato line, called "Sun Black" (SB). It is a tomato line with a purple skin color, both in green and in red fruit stages, due to the biosynthesis of anthocyanins in the peel, and a normal red color pulp, with a taste just like a traditional tomato. SB is the result of a breeding programme and it is not a genetically modified (GM) product. We report the chemical characterization and structure elucidation of the attractive anthocyanins found in the peel of SB tomato, as well as other bioactive compounds (carotenoids, polyphenols, vitamin C) of the whole fruit. Using one- and two-dimensional NMR experiments, the two main anthocyanins were identified to be petunidin 3--[6″--(4---coumaroyl-α-rhamnopyranosyl) -β-glucopyranoside]-5--β-glucopyranoside (petanin) and malvidin 3--[6″--(4---coumaroyl-α-rhamnopyranosyl)-β-glucopyranoside]-5--β-glucopyranoside (negretein). The total anthocyanins in the whole ripe fruit was 1.2 mg/g dry weight (DW); 7.1 mg/100 g fresh weight (FW). Chlorogenic acid (the most abundant phenolic acid) was 0.6 mg/g DW; 3.7 mg/100 g FW. The main flavonol, rutin was 0.8 mg/g DW; 5 mg/100 g FW. The total carotenoid content was 211.3 μg/g DW; 1,268 μg/100 g FW. The total phenolic content was 8.6 mg/g DW; 52.2 mg/100 g FW. The vitamin C content was 37.3 mg/100 g FW. The antioxidant activities as measured by the TEAC and ORAC assays were 31.6 and 140.3 μmol TE/g DW, respectively (193 and 855.8 μmol TE/100 g FW, respectively). The results show the unique features of this new tomato genotype with nutraceutical properties.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2019.00133DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6722425PMC
August 2019

Exploitation of Prunus mahaleb fruit by fermentation with selected strains of Lactobacillus plantarum and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Food Microbiol 2019 Dec 8;84:103262. Epub 2019 Jul 8.

CNR, Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA), via Prov.le Lecce-Monteroni, 73100, Lecce, Italy. Electronic address:

The organoleptic attributes of Prunus mahaleb, a fruit representing a new source of bioactive compounds, are so pronounced that it can be consider non-edible. This study was designed to evaluate the acceptance of P. mahaleb fruits after fermentation with different Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Lactobacillus plantarum protechnological strains. Four different bacterial and one yeast strains, as single or mixed starter formulation, were used to inoculate an aqueous suspension of P. mahaleb fruits. The fermented fruits and fermentation broths were subjected to physico-chemical characterization and the organoleptic properties of both samples were also assessed by a hedonic panel. The obtained results indicated that all the employed strains were able to grow and to ferment the matrix. However, the mixed starter FG69 + Li180-7 (L. plantarum/S. cerevisiae) had the best impact on sensory characteristics of P. mahaleb fruit and fermented medium. The adopted protocol allowed us to attain edible fruits and a new fermented non-dairy drink with valuable probiotic health-promoting properties. In our knowledge, this is the first study concerning the exploitation of P. mahaleb fruits. This investigation confirmed the potential of yeasts and lactic acid bacteria co-inoculation in the design of starter tailored for this kind of food applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2019.103262DOI Listing
December 2019

Prunus Mahaleb Fruit Extract Prevents Chemically Induced Colitis and Enhances Mitochondrial Oxidative Metabolism via the Activation of the Nrf2 Pathway.

Mol Nutr Food Res 2019 11 22;63(22):e1900350. Epub 2019 Aug 22.

Institute of Food Sciences, CNR, 83100, Avellino, Italy.

Scope: Polyphenols exhibit their antioxidant activity downstream the activation of the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 pathway (Nrf2), but the connection between lipid metabolism and the Nrf2 pathway is still unknown. Flavonoid-rich concentrated extract from Prunus mahaleb (mahaleb concentrated fruit extract; MCFE) may act on oxido-reductive homeostasis and hepatic lipid metabolism via Nrf2.

Methods & Results: MCFE ability to enhance the activity of Nrf2-mediated antioxidant/detoxifying enzymes is investigated in liver and colon of BALB/c mice. After a 4-week supplementation, macroscopic, histological, and biochemical signs of colitis are examined in mouse colon pulsed with 5% (w/v) dextran sodium sulfate (DSS). Untreated or DSS-supplemented mice are used as negative or positive control. MCFE effect on liver lipid metabolism and its possible link with the Nrf2 pathway is investigated. MCFE intake increases antioxidant defenses in mice colon and its pretreatment blunts pathological signs of colitis, as compared to positive control. In the liver, the increase in antioxidant defenses is associated with enhanced oxidative metabolism and with higher levels of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α) and of hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1), in comparison with negative controls.

Conclusion: Cytoprotective and hypolipidemic effect produced by MCFE intake results, at least in part, by the activation of the Nrf2 pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201900350DOI Listing
November 2019

First Insight on the Mucus of the Annelid (Polychaeta, Sabellidae) as a Potential Prospect for Drug Discovery.

Mar Drugs 2019 Jul 5;17(7). Epub 2019 Jul 5.

Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed Ambientali, Università del Salento, Via Prov.le Lecce Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

Many marine organisms, including invertebrates, produce mucosal matrices having different functions. Besides mechanical protection, the mucus of many invertebrates contains specific compounds to make the animal poisonous and/or distasteful or irritating. The presence of antibiotic molecules is more advantageous for some invertebrates to contrast bacterial attack. In the present study we investigated the mucus of the Mediterranean annelid species living in a gelatinous envelope made up of dense mucus. Antimicrobial lysozyme-like and antioxidant activities were investigated to highlight the potential interest of the worm mucus as a source of bioactive compounds for biotechnological applications. In order to understand which kind of compounds could be responsible for the detected activities, the mucus of was chemically characterized in terms of elemental composition, protein, lipid and carbohydrate content. Further chemical characterization was achieved by the advanced analytical technique of multinuclear and multidimensional NMR spectroscopy. NMR spectroscopy revealed the scarcity of lipids which preferentially resulted of alcoholic origin, or otherwise hydroxylate and several aminoacids (valine, leucine and alanine) in the aqueous extract in relation to the protein nature of mucus. The mucus indeed is mainly composed by water (94% ± 0.7%) whereas its dry weight is made of proteins (36% ± 2.3%) followed by lipids (2.9% ± 0.07%) and carbohydrates (2% ± 0.31%). The mucus exerted a natural antibacterial lysozyme-like activity corresponding to 1.14 mg mL of hen egg-white lysozyme and an antioxidant activity corresponding to 483.00 ± 79.22 nmolTE (Trolox equivalent)/mL sample as Trolox Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity (TEAC) and 276.26 ± 50.76 nmolTE/mL sample as Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). Therefore, our findings have potential implications due to the ongoing explosion of antibiotic resistant infections and the need to discover antibacterial agents. Additionally, the observed antioxidant activity is intriguing taking into account the need to find natural antioxidants useful for human health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md17070396DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6669576PMC
July 2019

Pro-Apoptotic Effect of Grape Seed Extract on MCF-7 Involves Transient Increase of Gap Junction Intercellular Communication and Cx43 Up-Regulation: A Mechanism of Chemoprevention.

Int J Mol Sci 2019 Jul 2;20(13). Epub 2019 Jul 2.

Food Department of Paediatrics and Human Development, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.

Growing evidence suggests dietary antioxidants reduce the risk of several cancers. Grape seeds extracts (GSE) are a rich source of polyphenols known to have antioxidant, chemopreventive and anticancer properties. Herein, we investigated the in vitro effects and putative action mechanisms of a grape seed extract (GSE) on human breast cancer cells (MCF-7). The effects of GSE were evaluated on cell proliferation, apoptosis and gap-junction-mediated cell-cell communications (GJIC), as basal mechanism involved in the promotion stage of carcinogenesis. GSE (0.05-100 μg/mL) caused a significant dose- and time-dependent inhibition of MCF-7 viability and induced apoptotic cell death, as detected by Annexin-V/Propidium Iodide. Concurrently, GSE induced transient but significant enhancement of GJIC in non-communicating MCF-7 cells, as demonstrated by the scrape-loading/dye-transfer (SL/DT) assay and an early and dose-dependent re-localization of the connexin-43 (Cx43) proteins on plasma membranes, as assayed by immunocytochemistry. Finally, real-time-PCR has evidenced a significant increase in mRNA expression. The results support the hypothesis that the proliferation inhibition and pro-apoptotic effect of GSE against this breast cancer cell model are mediated by the GJIC improvement via re-localization of Cx43 proteins and up-regulation of gene, and provide further insight into the action mechanisms underlying the health-promoting action of dietary components.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms20133244DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6651466PMC
July 2019

Screening of Lipidic Extract as A New Potential Source of Bioactive Compounds.

Mar Drugs 2019 May 28;17(6). Epub 2019 May 28.

Institute of Water Research (IRSA) C.N.R, 74123 Taranto, Italy.

Recent studies have shown that marine algae represent a great source of natural compounds with several properties. The lipidic extract of the seaweed (Chlorophyta, Cladophorales), one of the dominant species in the Mar Piccolo of Taranto (Mediterranean, Ionian Sea), revealed an antibacterial activity against and , common pathogens in aquaculture, suggesting its potential employment to control fish and shellfish diseases due to vibriosis and to reduce the public health hazards related to antibiotic use in aquaculture. This extract showed also an antioxidant activity, corresponding to 170.960 ± 16. mmol Trolox equivalent/g (oxygen radical absorbance capacity assay-ORAC) and to 30.554 ± 2.30 mmol Trolox equivalent/g (Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity assay-TEAC). The chemical characterization of the extract, performed by 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopy, highlighted the presence of free, saturated (SAFAs), unsaturated (UFAs) and polyunsaturated (PUFAs) fatty acids. The high content of ω-6 and ω-3 PUFAs confirmed also by gas chromatography indicates the potentiality of this algal species in the production of fortified food. The antibacterial activity seems related to the presence of linolenic acid present at high density, while the antioxidant activity could be likely ascribable to molecules such as carotenoids and chlorophylls (characterized also by thin-layer chromatography), known for this property. The presence of polyhydroxybutyrate, a biopolymer with potentiality in the field of biodegradable bioplastics was also detected. The exploitation of for a future biotechnological application is also encouraged by the results from a first attempt of cultivating this species in an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md17060313DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627440PMC
May 2019

Screening of Three Echinoderm Species as New Opportunity for Drug Discovery: Their Bioactivities and Antimicrobial Properties.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2018 1;2018:7891748. Epub 2018 Mar 1.

Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed Ambientali, Università del Salento, Via Prov.le Lecce-Monteroni, Lecce, Italy.

Echinoderms are a renewable resource with an economic value due to their increasing demand as food and/or source of bioactive molecules exerting antitumor, antiviral, anticoagulant, antioxidant, and antimicrobial activities. In this framework, the present study is aimed at investigating the antibacterial, antioxidant, and hemolytic activities in the three Echinoderm species , , and . The sea star showed lysozyme-like activity (mean diameter of lysis of 13.4 ± 0.2 mm), an antimicrobial activity against the human emerging pathogens , , and , and a strong lytic activity (100 ± 0.05%) towards the human red blood cells. Furthermore and had the highest antioxidant activity (1792.75 ± 233.7 and 1765.65 ± 484.58 nmolTE/mL, resp.). From toxicological assays, it was shown that was not toxic towards HeLa cells and , encouraging the exploitation of this species in the pharmaceutical field. Therefore, our findings have implications due to the ongoing explosion of antibiotic-resistant infections because of the new opportunistic pathogens and the need to discover antibacterial agents with new modes of action. Also the recorded antioxidant activity taking into account the need to find natural antioxidants useful for human health is intriguing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2018/7891748DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852862PMC
March 2018

Radical Scavenging and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Representative Anthocyanin Groupings from Pigment-Rich Fruits and Vegetables.

Int J Mol Sci 2018 Jan 6;19(1). Epub 2018 Jan 6.

Department of Chemistry, University of Bergen, Allegt 41, 5007 Bergen, Norway.

Anthocyanins, the naturally occurring pigments responsible for most red to blue colours of flowers, fruits and vegetables, have also attracted interest because of their potential health effects. With the aim of contributing to major insights into their structure-activity relationship (SAR), we have evaluated the radical scavenging and biological activities of selected purified anthocyanin samples (PASs) from various anthocyanin-rich plant materials: two fruits (mahaleb cherry and blackcurrant) and two vegetables (black carrot and "Sun Black" tomato), differing in anthocyanin content (ranging from 4.9 to 38.5 mg/g DW) and molecular structure of the predominant anthocyanins. PASs from the abovementioned plant materials have been evaluated for their antioxidant capacity using Trolox Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity (TEAC) and Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) assays. In human endothelial cells, we analysed the anti-inflammatory activity of different PASs by measuring their effects on the expression of endothelial adhesion molecules VCAM-1 and ICAM-1. We demonstrated that all the different PASs showed biological activity. They exhibited antioxidant capacity of different magnitude, higher for samples containing non-acylated anthocyanins (typical for fruits) compared to samples containing more complex anthocyanins acylated with cinnamic acid derivatives (typical for vegetables), even though this order was slightly reversed when ORAC assay values were expressed on a molar basis. Concordantly, PASs containing non-acylated anthocyanins reduced the expression of endothelial inflammatory antigens more than samples with aromatic acylated anthocyanins, suggesting the potential beneficial effect of structurally diverse anthocyanins in cardiovascular protection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms19010169DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796118PMC
January 2018

The Potential Exploitation of the Mediterranean Invasive Alga Caulerpa cylindracea: Can the Invasion Be Transformed into a Gain?

Mar Drugs 2016 Nov 15;14(11). Epub 2016 Nov 15.

Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed Ambientali, Università del Salento, Via Prov.le Lecce Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

Recently, there is a growing interest towards the development of strategies for invasive seaweed control and exploitation as source of secondary metabolites. Here, we investigated the potential of exploitation in biotechnology and recycling options in eradication programs of the lipidic extract of the Mediterranean invasive seaweed (Chlorophyta). The chemical characterization was carried out by means of multinuclear and multidimensional NMR spectroscopy. The fatty acid profile of assessed the presence of several types of molecules known for antioxidant activity such as carotenoids, chlorophylls, pheophytins, and sterols. The NMR spectroscopy showed also the characteristic signals of saturated, unsaturated, and free fatty acids as well as other metabolites including the biopolymer polyhydroxybutyrate. The lipidic extract exerted an antioxidant activity corresponding to 552.14 ± 69.13 mmol Trolox equivalent/g (ORAC) and to 70.3 ± 2.67 mmol Trolox equivalent/g (TEAC). The extract showed an antibacterial activity against several species, suggesting its potential use in the control of diseases in mariculture. Our results show that , representing a critical hazard in coastal areas, could be transformed into a gain supporting specific management actions to reduce the effects of human pressures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md14110210DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5128753PMC
November 2016

Betalains, Phenols and Antioxidant Capacity in Cactus Pear [Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.] Fruits from Apulia (South Italy) Genotypes.

Antioxidants (Basel) 2015 Apr 1;4(2):269-80. Epub 2015 Apr 1.

Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA), CNR, Lecce Unit, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

Betacyanin (betanin), total phenolics, vitamin C and antioxidant capacity (by Trolox-equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assays) were investigated in two differently colored cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.) genotypes, one with purple fruit and the other with orange fruit, from the Salento area, in Apulia (South Italy). In order to quantitate betanin in cactus pear fruit extracts (which is difficult by HPLC because of the presence of two isomers, betanin and isobetanin, and the lack of commercial standard with high purity), betanin was purified from Amaranthus retroflexus inflorescence, characterized by the presence of a single isomer. The purple cactus pear variety showed very high betanin content, with higher levels of phenolics, vitamin C, and antioxidant capacity (TEAC) than the orange variety. These findings confirm the potential for exploiting the autochthonous biodiversity of cactus pear fruits. In particular, the purple variety could be an interesting source of colored bioactive compounds which not only have coloring potential, but are also an excellent source of dietary antioxidant components which may have beneficial effects on consumers' health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/antiox4020269DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4665470PMC
April 2015

Polyphenolic composition and antioxidant activity of the under-utilised Prunus mahaleb L. fruit.

J Sci Food Agric 2016 Jun 1;96(8):2641-9. Epub 2015 Oct 1.

Food, Nutrition and Health Department, University of British Columbia, 2205 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada.

Background: The identification of novel plant-based functional foods or nutraceutical ingredients that possess bioactive properties with antioxidant function has recently become important to the food, nutraceutical and cosmetic industries. This study evaluates the polyphenolic composition, identifies bioactive compounds and assays the total antioxidant capacity of Prunus mahaleb L. fruits collected from different populations and sampling years in the countryside around Bari (Apulia Region, Italy).

Results: We identified nine polyphenolic compounds including major anthocyanins, coumaric acid derivatives and flavonols from P. mahaleb fruits. The anthocyanin content (in some populations > 5 g kg(-1) fresh weight; FW) in the fruit was comparable to that reported for so-called superfruits such as bilberries, chokeberries and blackcurrants. Coumaric acid derivatives comprised a large portion of the total polyphenolic content in the P. mahaleb fruits. Antioxidant activities, assessed using ORAC and TEAC assays, measured up to 150 and 45 mmol Trolox equivalents kg(-1) FW, respectively. Therefore antioxidant capacity of P. mahaleb fruits is relatively high and comparable to that of superfruit varieties that are often used in commercial nutraceutical products.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that mahaleb fruit (currently not consumed fresh or used in other ways) could serve as a source of bioactive compounds and therefore find interest from the functional food and nutraceutical industries, as a natural food colorant and antioxidant ingredient in the formulation of functional foods. © 2015 Society of Chemical Industry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.7381DOI Listing
June 2016

Purification and chemical characterisation of a cell wall-associated β-galactosidase from mature sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) fruit.

Plant Physiol Biochem 2012 Dec 8;61:123-30. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

Institute of Sciences of Food Production, C.N.R. Unit of Lecce, via Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

Using four different chromatographic steps, β-galactosidase was purified from the ripe fruit of sweet cherry to apparent electrophoretic homogeneity with approximately 131-fold purification. The Prunus avium β-galactosidase showed an apparent molecular mass of about 100 kDa and consisted of four different active polypeptides with pIs of about 7.9, 7.4, 6.9 and 6.4 as estimated by native IEF and β-galactosidase-activity staining. The active polypeptides were individually excised from the gel and subjected to SDS-PAGE. Each of the four native enzymes showing β-galactosidase activity was composed of two polypeptides with an estimated mass of 54 and 33 kDa. Both of these polypeptides were subjected to N-terminal amino acid sequence analysis. The 54 kDa polypeptide of sweet cherry β-galactosidase showed a 43% identity with the 44 kDa subunit of persimmon and apple β-galactosidases and the 48 kDa subunit of carambola galactosidase I. The sweet cherry β-galactosidase exhibited a strict specificity towards p-nitrophenyl β-D-galactopyranoside, a pH optimum of 4.0 and K(m) and V(max) values of 0.42 mM and 4.12 mmol min(-1) mg(-1) of protein respectively with this substrate. The enzyme was also active towards complex glycans. Taken together the results of this study prompted a role for this class of enzymes on sweet cherry fruit ripening and softening.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.plaphy.2012.09.012DOI Listing
December 2012

An optimized protocol for the production of interdelta markers in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by using capillary electrophoresis.

J Microbiol Methods 2009 Sep 22;78(3):286-91. Epub 2009 Jun 22.

C.N.R.-Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA), Operative Unit of Lecce, via Provinciale Lecce-Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

The amplification of genomic sequence blocks flanked by delta elements of retrotransposon origin has proved to be a very convenient method for molecular characterization of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains. Fluorescent automated capillary electrophoresis (CE) was used to detect interdelta marker (IDM) patterns in S. cerevisiae, using the ABI Prism 3130 Genetic Analyzer. Main experimental parameters were studied and the optimal conditions for IDM amplification and samples run on the CE apparatus were determined. Fingerprints from fluorescent-labelled IDM produced using CE with the same sample analyzed by agarose electrophoresis (AE) were compared. The CE analysis was able to distinguish 43 different IDM profiles among 45 S. cerevisiae isolates with a discriminating capacity of 99.8%, whereas the AE analysis of the same samples allowed the identification of 27 different patterns (discriminatory power equal to 96%). Detection of fluorescent IDM was fast and reliable, and it facilitated data comparison. For the first time in our knowledge, the fluorescent CE proved to be well suited for IDM fingerprinting. Moreover, it could be routinely applied for the molecular differentiation of S. cerevisiae strains.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mimet.2009.06.012DOI Listing
September 2009

Drought stress response in wheat: physiological and molecular analysis of resistant and sensitive genotypes.

Plant Cell Environ 2006 Dec;29(12):2143-52

Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed Ambientali, Università di Lecce, via prov. le Monteroni, Lecce, Italy.

Water deficit is a severe environmental stress and the major constraint on plant productivity with an evident effect on plant growth. The aim of this work was to study Triticum and Aegilops seedlings differing in their response to drought stress at the physiological and molecular levels. The identification of resistant and sensitive genotypes was firstly based on the relative water content (RWC) measurement. Further characterization of genotypes contrasting in their response to water stress was performed at the physiological level by determination of RWC, water loss rate (WLR) and free proline content after different hours of dehydration. Modification in the expression level of five dehydrin (DHN) genes was also analysed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Five cDNAs coding for different DHNs were identified and characterized. These genes are not expressed in the well-watered plants, but only in the stressed plants. Four of these cDNAs are related to novel DHN sequences. The results obtained clearly indicate a relation between the expression of these genes and tissue water content. In particular, in the resistant genotypes the expression of DHN genes is initiated even though tissue hydration levels are still high, indicating also in wheat the involvement of these proteins in water retention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3040.2006.01588.xDOI Listing
December 2006

Lipoxygenase involvement in ripening strawberry.

J Agric Food Chem 2006 Sep;54(18):6835-44

Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Scienze delle Produzioni Alimentari, 73100 Lecce, Italy.

The enzymatic activity, subcellular localization, and immunolocalization of plant lipoxygenase (LOX) in strawberry fruits (Fragaria x ananassa, Duch) were investigated. Chemical and enzymatic properties of LOX have been characterized, and the LOX capability of oxygenating free and esterified unsaturated fatty acids into C6 volatile aldehydes has been confirmed. Fruits at unripe, turning, and ripe stages were analyzed for LOX activity and protein localization by Western blots, two-dimensional electrophoresis, and immunolocalization analyses. The ability of strawberry tissues to in vivo metabolize linolenic acid or linoleic acid into C6 volatile aldehydes and the LOX products was also analyzed. Analysis of strawberry proteins showed that a number of LOX forms, corresponding to at least two mobility groups of approximately 100 and 98 kDa and pI values ranging between 4.4 and 6.5, were present. Confocal and electron microscopy analyses support the idea that LOX proteins are associated to lipid-protein aggregates. Both exogenously supplied linoleate and linolenate were converted into hexanal and trans-2-hexenal at the three fruit-ripening stages. Our experiments suggest the presence of different LOX isoforms in strawberry fruits and that the lipoxygenase-hydroperoxide lyase pathway plays a role in converting lipids to C6 volatiles during ripening.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jf061457gDOI Listing
September 2006

Sour Cherry (Prunus cerasus L) Anthocyanins as Ingredients for Functional Foods.

J Biomed Biotechnol 2004 ;2004(5):253-258

In the recent years many studies on anthocyanins have revealed their strong antioxidant activity and their possible use as chemotherapeutics. The finding that sour cherries (Prunus cerasus L) (also called tart cherries) contain high levels of anthocyanins that possess strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties has attracted much attention to this species. Here we report the preliminary results of the induction of anthocyanin biosynthesis in sour cherry callus cell cultures. The evaluation and characterization of the in vitro produced pigments are compared to those of the anthocyanins found in vivo in fruits of several sour cherry cultivars. Interestingly, the anthocyanin profiles found in whole fruit extracts were similar in all tested genotypes but were different with respect to the callus extract. The evaluation of antioxidant activity, performed by ORAC and TEAC assays, revealed a relatively high antioxidant capacity for the fruit extracts (from 1145 to 2592 $\mu $ mol TE/100 g FW) and a lower one for the callus extract (688 $\mu $ mol TE/100 g FW).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/S1110724304404136DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082898PMC
January 2004