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Chemical Composition and Biological Activity of Essential Oil and Extract from the Seeds of Tropaeolum majus L. var. altum

Ivana Vrca1*orcid tiny, Dina Ramić2orcid tiny, Željana Fredotović3orcid tiny, Sonja Smole Možina2orcid tiny, Ivica Blažević4orcid tiny and Tea Bilušić1orcid tiny

1Department of Food Technology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Chemistry and Technology, University of Split, Ruđera Boškovića 35, 21 000 Split, Croatia

2Department of Food Science and Technology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Jamnikarjeva ulica 101, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

3Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Split, Ruđera Boškovića 33, 21000 Split, Croatia

4Department of Organic Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry and Technology, University of Split, Ruđera Boškovića 35, 21 000 Split, Croatia

Article history:

Received: 31 January 2022

Accepted: 28 September 20220

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Tropaeolum majus L.; benzyl isothiocyanate; benzyl cyanide; antiproliferative activity; antimicrobial activity


Research backgroundPlant Tropaeolum majus L. (garden nasturtium) belongs to the family Tropaeolaceae and contains benzyl glucosinolate. The breakdown product of benzyl glucosinolate, benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC), exhibits various biological activities such as antiproliferative, antibacterial and antiinflammatory. In order to optimize the content of biologically active volatile compounds in plant extract and essential oil, the use of appropriate extraction technique has a crucial role.

Experimental approachThe current study investigates the effect of two modern extraction methods, microwave-assisted distillation (MAD) and microwave hydrodiffusion and gravity (MHG), on the chemical composition of volatile components present in the essential oil and extract of garden nasturtium (T. majus L. var. altum) seeds. Investigation of the biological activity of samples (essential oil, extract and pure compounds) was focused on the antiproliferative effect against different cancer cell lines: cervical cancer cell line (HeLa), human colon cancer cell line (HCT116) and human osteosarcoma cell line (U2OS), and the antibacterial activity which was evaluated against the growth and adhesion of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli to polystyrene surface.

Results and conclusionsEssential oil and extract of garden nasturtium (T. majus) seeds were isolated by two extraction techniques: MAD and MHG. BITC and benzyl cyanide (BCN) present in the extract were identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Essential oil of T. majus showed higher antiproliferative activity (IC50<5 μg/mL) than T. majus extract (IC50<27 μg/mL) against three cancer cell lines: HeLa, HCT116 and U2OS. BITC showed much higher inhibitory effect on all tested cells than BCN. The essential oil and extract of T. majus showed strong antimicrobial activity against S. aureus and E. coli.

Novelty and scientific contributionThis work represents the first comparative report on the antiproliferative activity of the essential oil and extract of T. majus seeds, BITC and BCN against HeLa, HCT116 and U2OS cells as well as their antimicrobial activity against S. aureus and E. coli. This study demonstrates that the essential oil of T. majus seeds exhibits stronger antiproliferative and antimicrobial activity than the plant extract.

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