Pharmaceutical biology

The bioactivity of Hedysarum coronarium extracts on skin enzymes and cells correlates with phenolic content.

PMID 28728492


The search for bioactive compounds from botanical sources is attracting much interest. However, differences in chemical composition may occur within the same species depending on different geographical origins. We evaluated the properties on skin enzymes and cells of extracts from sulla legume crop Hedysarum coronarium L. (Fabaceae), collected at two Italian sites near Pisa and Ventimiglia, for possible dermatological and cosmetic applications. Plant aerial portions were extracted in MTBE/ethyl acetate/acetone, obtaining two extracts named Pisa sulla extract (PSE) and Ventimiglia sulla extract (VSE). Extracts were subjected to chemical characterization, LC-MS/MS analysis and biological assays. PSE showed stronger antiradical scavenging and higher phenolic and flavonoid contents with respect to VSE. LC-MS/MS analysis revealed similar composition for the two extracts, but PSE was richer in condensed tannins and flavonoids, principally rhoifolin, quercetin, naringenin and derivatives. PSE induced stronger inhibition on collagenase and elastase by in vitro enzyme assays, possibly due to higher levels of condensed tannins and quercetin. ELISA bioassay on human dermal fibroblasts revealed stronger PSE induction of collagen production. Determination of glycerol release from adipocytes disclosed stronger stimulation of lipolysis by PSE, allegedly ascribed to higher charge of quercetin and derivatives. In summary, the higher richness in phenolics of PSE is strictly related to stronger bioactivity. Data indicate that aerial H. coronarium material is suitable for the development of dermatological and cosmeceutical products, but the geographical origin is an important factor for maximally exploiting the biological properties of this species.