Stability of total phenolic concentration and antioxidant capacity of extracts from pomegranate co-products subjected to in vitro digestion

Fawole, Olaniyi Amos ; Opara, Umezuruike Linus (2016-09)

CITATION: Fawole, O. A. & Opara, U. L. 2016. Stability of total phenolic concentration and antioxidant capacity of extracts from pomegranate co-products subjected to in vitro digestion. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 16:358, doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1343-2.

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


Background: Co-products obtained from pomegranate juice processing contain high levels of polyphenols with potential high added values. From value-addition viewpoint, the aim of this study was to evaluate the stability of polyphenolic concentrations in pomegranate fruit co-products in different solvent extracts and assess the effect on the total antioxidant capacity using the FRAP, DPPH˙ and ABTS+ assays during simulated in vitro digestion. Methods: Pomegranate juice, marc and peel were extracted in water, 50 % ethanol (50%EtOH) and absolute ethanol (100%EtOH) and analysed for total phenolic concentration (TPC), total flavonoids concentration (TFC) and total antioxidant capacity in DPPH˙, ABTS+ and FRAP assays before and after in vitro digestion. Results: Total phenolic concentration (TPC) and total flavonoid concentration (TFC) were in the order of peel > marc > juice throughout the in vitro digestion irrespective of the extraction solvents used. However, 50 % ethanol extracted 1.1 to 12-fold more polyphenols than water and ethanol solvents depending on co-products. TPC and TFC increased significantly in gastric digests. In contrast, after the duodenal phase of in vitro digestion, polyphenolic concentrations decreased significantly (p < 0.05) compared to those obtained in gastric digests. Undigested samples and gastric digests showed strong and positive relationships between polyphenols and the antioxidant activities measured in DPPH, ABTS+ and FRAP assays, with correlation coefficients (r2) ranging between 0.930–0.990. In addition, the relationships between polyphenols (TPC and TFC) and radical cation scavenging activity in ABTS+ were moderately positive in duodenal digests. Conclusion: Findings from this study showed that concentration of pomegranate polyphenols and the antioxidant capacity during in vitro gastro-intestinal digestion may not reflect the pre-digested phenolic concentration. Thus, this study highlights the need to provide biologically relevant information on antioxidants by providing data reflecting their stability and activity after in vitro digestion.

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