New research perspectives on the pepper fruit's bioactive compounds with nutraceutical potentiality

New research perspectives on the pepper fruit

Guevara et al., Int J Mol Sci.

Plant species are precursors of a wide variety of secondary metabolites that, besides being useful for themselves, can also be used by humans for their consumption and economic benefit.

Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) fruit is not only a common food and spice source, it also stands out for containing high amounts of antioxidants (such as vitamins C and A), polyphenols and capsaicinoids.

Particular attention has been paid to capsaicin, whose anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative and analgesic activities have been reported in the literature.

Due to the potential interest in pepper metabolites for human use, in this project, we carried out an investigation to identify new bioactive compounds of this crop.

To achieve this, we applied a metabolomic approach, using an HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography) separative technique coupled to metabolite identification by high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS).

After chromatographic analysis and data processing against metabolic databases, 12 differential bioactive compounds were identified in sweet pepper fruits, including quercetin and its derivatives, L-tryptophan, phytosphingosin, FAD, gingerglycolipid A, tetrahydropentoxylin, blumenol C glucoside, colnelenic acid and capsoside A.

The abundance of these metabolites varied depending on the ripening stage of the fruits, either immature green or ripe red.

We also studied the variation of these 12 metabolites upon treatment with exogenous nitric oxide (NO), a free radical gas involved in a good number of physiological processes in higher plants such as germination, growth, flowering, senescence, and fruit ripening, among others.

Overall, it was found that the content of the analyzed metabolites depended on the ripening stage and on the presence of NO.

The metabolic pattern followed by quercetin and its derivatives, as a consequence of the ripening stage and NO treatment, was also corroborated by transcriptomic analysis of genes involved in the synthesis of these compounds.

This opens new research perspectives on the pepper fruit's bioactive compounds with nutraceutical potentiality, where biotechnological strategies can be applied for optimizing the level of these beneficial compounds.

Figure is nr. 1 of the original paper - Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of metabolites contained in sweet pepper fruits at different ripening stage and as a consequence of exogenous treatment with NO. 

Identification of Compounds with Potential Therapeutic Uses from Sweet Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) Fruits and Their Modulation by Nitric Oxide (NO)
Lucía Guevara, María Ángeles Domínguez-Anaya, Alba Ortigosa, Salvador González-Gordo, Caridad Díaz, Francisca Vicente, Francisco J. Corpas, José Pérez del Palacio & José M. Palma
Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 25;22(9):4476. doi: 10.3390/ijms22094476.