DOI: 10.3390/ijms25010280 ISSN: 1422-0067

Bioactive Properties of Tagetes erecta Edible Flowers: Polyphenol and Antioxidant Characterization and Therapeutic Activity against Ovarian Tumoral Cells and Caenorhabditis elegans Tauopathy

Lorenzo Rivas-García, Lara Crespo-Antolín, Tamara Y. Forbes-Hernández, Jose M. Romero-Márquez, María D. Navarro-Hortal, Miguel Arredondo, Juan Llopis, José L. Quiles, Cristina Sánchez-González
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Spectroscopy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine
  • Catalysis

Tagetes erecta is an edible flower deeply rooted in traditional Mexican culture. It holds a central role in the most popular and iconic Mexican celebration, “the Day of the Dead”. Furthermore, it is currently receiving interest as a potential therapeutic agent, motivated mainly by its polyphenol content. The present study aims to evaluate the biological activity of an extract synthesized from the petals of the edible flower T. erecta. This extract showed significant antioxidant scores measured by the most common in vitro methodologies (FRAP, ABTS, and DPPH), with values of 1475.3 μM trolox/g extr, 1950.3 μM trolox/g extr, and 977.7 μM trolox/g extr, respectively. In addition, up to 36 individual polyphenols were identified by chromatography. Regarding the biomedical aspects of the petal extract, it exhibited antitumoral activity against ovarian carcinoma cells evaluated by the MTS assay, revealing a lower value of IC50 compared to other flower extracts. For example, the extract from T. erecta reported an IC50 value half as low as an extract from Rosa × hybrida and six times lower than another extract from Tulbaghia violacea. This antitumoral effect of T. erecta arises from the induction of the apoptotic process; thus, incubating ovarian carcinoma cells with the petal extract increased the rate of apoptotic cells measured by flow cytometry. Moreover, the extract also demonstrated efficacy as a therapeutic agent against tauopathy, a feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the Caenorhabditis elegans experimental model. Treating worms with the experimental extract prevented disfunction in several motility parameters such as wavelength and swimming speed. Furthermore, the T. erecta petal extract prevented the release of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), which are associated with the progression of AD. Thus, treatment with the extract resulted in an approximate 20% reduction in ROS production. These findings suggest that these petals could serve as a suitable source of polyphenols for biomedical applications.

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