Plant Profiler

Kiwi (Actinidia chinensis)

Kiwi (Actinidia chinensis) Image
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
(E,E)-2,6-nonadienal, 2-cyclohexen-1-one, 2-ethylfuran, 2-hexanol, 2-methyl-1-butanol, 3-hydroxy-2-butanone, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 3-methyl-2-butanone, 3-methyl-2-butenal, 3-methyl 3-buten-2-one, 3-penten-2-ol, Actinidia arguta, Actinidia chinensis L., Actinidia coriacea, Actinidia kolomikta, Actinidia melanandra, Actinidia polygama, Actinidia purpurea, Actinidia sinensis planch (ASP), Actinidiaceae, actinidin, Chinese egg gooseberry, China gooseberry, Chinese gooseberry, diethyl succinate, goat peach, hairy pear, hardy kiwi, hexyl hexanoate, kivi, kiivi, kiwi fruit, macaque peach, nonanal, octane, profilin, purple kiwi, red kiwi, silver vine, thiol-proteases, yang-tao.

Mechanism of Action


  • Constituents: The applicable part of the kiwi is the fruit. Kiwi fruit contains high levels of vitamin C and E, serotonin and potassium.1 It also contains approximately 4.5mg/kg catechins.12 Substantial amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin (30-50%) are also present in kiwi fruit.11 It is estimated that 100mg of ascorbic acid is contained in one kiwi fruit.13
  • A total of 35 components appear to contribute to the aroma of kiwi fresh puree and its aqueous essence, which include: 2-ethylfuran, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 2-cyclohexen-1-one, (E,E)-2,6-nonadienal, diethyl succinate, hexyl hexanoate, 3-penten-2-ol, 3-hydroxy-2-butanone, 3-methyl-2-butenal, 2-hexanol, nonanal, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 2-methyl-1-butanol, 3-methyl-2-butanone, 3-methyl 3-buten-2-one, and octane.14
  • Allergy constituents: The major allergen of kiwi fruit, Act c 1, is actinidin, a proteolytic enzyme belonging to the class of thiol-proteases15 which appears to sensitize via the GI tract.16 Actinidin may be responsible for adverse effects. Three proteins of the kiwi extract (25, 30 and 43 kDa) were considered to contain a carbohydrate moiety.17 Profilin seems to be relevant in cross-reactivity of kiwi allergens. Twelve IgE-binding components with molecular weights ranging from 12 to 64 kd were identified in the kiwi extract, but only a 30-kd component acted as major allergen.18 Other allergens have been proposed, such as 24-kd TLP.19,5
  • Antifungal activity: The 24-kd protein, a potential allergen of kiwi5 has a partial N-terminal sequence revealed that it is a thaumatin-like protein (TLP) with concanavalin A -binding ability. The protein, TLP (isoelectric points of 9.4 and 9.5 and molecular weight of 24 kd) showed antifungal activity toward Saccharomyces carlsbergensis and Candida albicans.
  • Antioxidant activity: Potential benefits of kiwi in asthma might be due to antioxidant properties of vitamin C or other fruit constituents.9,10,2 The consumption of fruits or fruit juices like kiwi may reduce damage from oxidative stress, and that this effect may be a consequence of the antioxidant activity of fruits in scavenging the reactive oxygen species generated in human plasma.7 Kiwi fruit was taken as an example of a food with putative antioxidant properties, and its effectiveness at decreasing oxidative DNA damage was assessed in ex vivo as well as in vitro tests.6 The comet assay (single-cell gel electrophoresis) was used to measure DNA damage in lymphocytes collected during a human supplementation trial with a single 500mL drink of kiwi fruit juice (with water as a control). The comet assay was also modified to assess the antioxidant effect of kiwi fruit in vitro by measuring the ability of an extract to interfere with oxidative damage to DNA induced by H2O2. Ex vivo, consumption of kiwi fruit led to an increased resistance of DNA to oxidative damage induced by H2O2 in isolated lymphocytes, in comparison with lymphocytes collected after a control drink of water. No effect was seen on endogenous DNA damage. In vitro, a simple extract of kiwi fruit, buffered to pH 7, was more effective than a solution of vitamin C (of equivalent concentration) at protecting DNA from damage, whereas at the highest concentrations tested, neither kiwi extract nor vitamin C had a protective effect. The authors conclude that is significant antioxidant activity of kiwi fruit ex vivo and in vitro, not attributable entirely to the vitamin C content of the fruit.
  • Cytotoxic activity: Kiwi gold fruits were extracted successively with hexane, acetone, methanol and 70% methanol, and further fractionated by silica gel and ODS column chromatographies for the assays of various biological activities.4 Five fractions H1, H2 (hexane extract), Al, A2 (acetone extract) and M2 (methanol extract) showed selective cytotoxic activity against human oral tumor cell lines, which was more sensitive than human gingival fibroblasts. More hydrophilic fractions [70M3, 70M4, 70M5] of 70% methanol extract displayed higher anti-HIV activity, radical generation and O2- scavenging activity. The antibacterial activity of 70% methanol extracts [70M0, 70M1, 70M2, 70M3, 70M4] was generally lower than that of more lipophilic fractions (hexane, acetone, methanol extracts), although each fraction did not show any specific antimicrobial action. All fractions were inactive against Helicobacter pylori. Per the authors, these results demonstrate that gold kiwi fruit extracts contain valuable, various bioactive materials, which can be separated with each other.
  • Dermatologic activity: Potential dermatological activity of purified polysaccharides from kiwi fruits (Actinidia chinensis L., Actinidiaceae) were characterized concerning monomer composition, linkage types and molecular weights and were tested under in vitro conditions for regulating activities on cell physiology of human keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and skin equivalents.8 Ten micrograms per milliliter of raw polysaccharide, neutral type-II-arabinogalactans, and acidic arabinorhamnogalacturonans of kiwi fruits stimulated cell proliferation of human keratinocytes (NHK, HaCaT) up to 30% significantly while mitochondrial activity was stimulated for nearly 25% in regard to control cells. Fibroblasts were not as sensitive as keratinocytes but >130mcg/mL kiwi fruit polysaccharides increased proliferation and ATP-synthesis significantly, too. Proliferation-stimulating activity was dependent on terminal 1-alpha-l-arabinose residues since enzymatic release of these sugar moieties caused significantly decreased proliferation of HaCaT and fibroblasts of about 10% in regard to untreated cells. In three-dimensional skin equivalents, it was shown that the polysaccharides led to a doubled collagen synthesis of fibroblasts compared to the normally strongly reduced biosynthetic activity.
  • Platelet effects: One study evaluated whether consuming kiwi fruit modulated platelet activity and plasma lipids in human volunteers in a randomized cross-over study. Consuming two or three kiwi fruit per day for 28 days reduced platelet aggregation response to collagen and ADP by 18% compared with the controls (p<0.05). In addition, consumption of kiwi fruit lowered blood triglycerides levels by 15% compared with control (p<0.05), whereas no such effects were observed in the case of cholesterol levels.3


  • Available evidence on the pharmacodynamics and kinetics of kiwi is limited. However, it is known that in one experimental study, within 16 hours kiwi allergens were substantially degraded by simulated intestinal fluid (SIF).20


  1. Maillar, C. [The kiwi, rich in vitamins C and E and also in potassium]. Servir 1998;46(3):160. 9709133
  2. Carey, I. M., Strachan, D. P., and Cook, D. G. Effects of changes in fresh fruit consumption on ventilatory function in healthy British adults. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1998;158(3):728-733. 9730997
  3. Duttaroy, A. K. and Jorgensen, A. Effects of kiwi fruit consumption on platelet aggregation and plasma lipids in healthy human volunteers. Platelets 2004;15(5):287-292. 15370099
  4. Motohashi, N., Shirataki, Y., Kawase, M., Tani, S., Sakagami, H., Satoh, K., Kurihara, T., Nakashima, H., Mucsi, I., Varga, A., and Molnar, J. Cancer prevention and therapy with kiwifruit in Chinese folklore medicine: a study of kiwifruit extracts. J Ethnopharmacol 2002;81(3):357-364. 12127237
  5. Gavrovic-Jankulovic, M., Cirkovic, T., Vuckovic, O., Atanaskovic-Markovic, M., Petersen, A., Gojgic, G., Burazer, L., and Jankov, R. M. Isolation and biochemical characterization of a thaumatin-like kiwi allergen. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2002;110(5):805-810. 12417892
  6. Collins, B. H., Horska, A., Hotten, P. M., Riddoch, C., and Collins, A. R. Kiwifruit protects against oxidative DNA damage in human cells and in vitro. Nutr Cancer 2001;39(1):148-153. 11588897
  7. Ko, S. H., Choi, S. W., Ye, S. K., Cho, B. L., Kim, H. S., and Chung, M. H. Comparison of the antioxidant activities of nine different fruits in human plasma. J Med Food 2005;8(1):41-46. 15857208
  8. Deters, A. M., Schroder, K. R., and Hensel, A. Kiwi fruit (Actinidia chinensis L.) polysaccharides exert stimulating effects on cell proliferation via enhanced growth factor receptors, energy production, and collagen synthesis of human keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and skin equivalents. J Cell Physiol 2005;202(3):717-722. 15389574
  9. Forastiere, F., Pistelli, R., Sestini, P., Fortes, C., Renzoni, E., Rusconi, F., Dell'Orco, V., Ciccone, G., and Bisanti, L. Consumption of fresh fruit rich in vitamin C and wheezing symptoms in children. SIDRIA Collaborative Group, Italy (Italian Studies on Respiratory Disorders in Children and the Environment). Thorax 2000;55(4):283-288. 10722767
  10. Hatch, G. E. Asthma, inhaled oxidants, and dietary antioxidants. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;61(3 Suppl):625S-630S. 7879729
  11. Sommerburg, O., Keunen, J. E., Bird, A. C., and van Kuijk, F. J. Fruits and vegetables that are sources for lutein and zeaxanthin: the macular pigment in human eyes. Br J Ophthalmol 1998;82(8):907-910. 9828775
  12. Arts, I. C., van de, Putte B., and Hollman, P. C. Catechin contents of foods commonly consumed in The Netherlands. 1. Fruits, vegetables, staple foods, and processed foods. J Agric Food Chem 2000;48(5):1746-1751. 10820089
  13. Szeto, Y. T., Tomlinson, B., and Benzie, I. F. Total antioxidant and ascorbic acid content of fresh fruits and vegetables: implications for dietary planning and food preservation. Br J Nutr 2002;87(1):55-59. 11898770
  14. Jordan, M. J., Margaria, C. A., Shaw, P. E., and Goodner, K. L. Aroma active components in aqueous kiwi fruit essence and kiwi fruit puree by GC-MS and multidimensional GC/GC-O. J Agric Food Chem 9-11-2002;50(19):5386-5390. 12207479
  15. Pastorello, E. A., Conti, A., Pravettoni, V., Farioli, L., Rivolta, F., Ansaloni, R., Ispano, M., Incorvaia, C., Giuffrida, M. G., and Ortolani, C. Identification of actinidin as the major allergen of kiwi fruit. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1998;101(4 Pt 1):531-537. 9564807
  16. Mills, E. N., Jenkins, J. A., Alcocer, M. J., and Shewry, P. R. Structural, biological, and evolutionary relationships of plant food allergens sensitizing via the gastrointestinal tract. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2004;44(5):379-407. 15540651
  17. Rudeschko, O., Fahlbusch, B., Steurich, F., Schlenvoigt, G., and Jager, L. Kiwi allergens and their cross-reactivity with birch, rye, timothy, and mugwort pollen. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 1998;8(2):78-84. 9615299
  18. Pastorello, E. A., Pravettoni, V., Ispano, M., Farioli, L., Ansaloni, R., Rotondo, F., Incorvaia, C., Asman, I., Bengtsson, A., and Ortolani, C. Identification of the allergenic components of kiwi fruit and evaluation of their cross-reactivity with timothy and birch pollens. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1996;98(3):601-610. 8828538
  19. Gavrovic-Jankulovic, M., Cirkovic, T., Burazer, L., Vuckovic, O., and Jankov, R. M. IgE cross-reactivity between meadow fescue pollen and kiwi fruit in patients' sera with sensitivity to both extracts. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2002;12(4):279-286. 12926188
  20. Yagami, T., Haishima, Y., Nakamura, A., Osuna, H., and Ikezawa, Z. Digestibility of allergens extracted from natural rubber latex and vegetable foods. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2000;106(4):752-762. 11031347

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