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Tangerine (Citrus reticulata)

Tangerine (Citrus reticulata) Image
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, carotenoids, Citrus reticulata, Citri Reticulatae Viride Pericarpium, Citrus reticulata Blanco, Citrus reticulate, Dancy tangerine (Citrus tangerinia), folate, grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), limonin, limonoid glucoside mixture, limonoids, lutein, magnesium, mandarin (Citrus reticulata Blanco), nomilin, nomilinic acid 17 beta-D-glucopyranoside, obacunone 17 beta-D-glucopyranoside, orange (Citrus sinensis), polyphenols, Rutaceae (family), tangeretin, tangerine juice, vitamin C, xanthophyll esters, zeaxanthin.

Mechanism of Action


  • Constituents: Tangerine peel has been found to contain fat, protein, ash, magnesium, carotenoids, dietary fiber, and polyphenols.3 Tangerine juice concentrate contains beta-cryptoxanthin xanthophyll esters (zeaxanthin and lutein)12 Tangerine also contains carotenoids, such as beta-cryptoxanthin.13,14 Mandarin (Citrus reticulata Blanco) contains limonoids, including obacunone 17 beta-D-glucopyranoside, nomilinic acid 17 beta-D-glucopyranoside, limonin, nomilin, and a limonoid glucoside mixture.8.
  • Antibacterial properties: In an in vitro study, an ethanol extract of Citrus reticulata inhibited five clinical strains of Helicobacter pylori (MIC: approximately 40mcg/mL).7
  • Anticancer activity: Flavones extracted from the fruit peel of Citrus reticulata Blanco induced differentiation in mouse myeloid leukemia cells (M1), and the cells exhibited phagocytic activity in vitro.4 Limonoids extracted from Citrus reticulata Blanco exhibited significant growth-inhibitory effects at high concentrations (100mcg/mL) against human breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7), but did not inhibit leukemia (HL-60), ovary (SKOV-3), cervix (HeLa), stomach (NCI-SNU-1), or liver (Hep G2) cancer cells lines.8 In two in vitro studies, extracts of Citrus reticulata Blanco peel increased apoptosis in human gastric cancer cells (SNU-668)5 and human colon cancer cells (SNU-C4)6.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: In a laboratory study, nobiletin, a polymethoxyflavonoid isolated from Clivia nobilis, showed higher anti-inflammatory activity than indomethacin in a TPA-induced edema formation test in mouse ears.2 The authors concluded that citrus fruits, including tangerine, could be notable sources of anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Antioxidant effects: In a comparative study of tangerine juice, grapefruit juice, and orange juice, the authors measured the polyphenol content by an oxidation-reduction colorimetric method (Folin) using catechin as the standard.1 The antioxidant contribution of ascorbic acid was measured by the difference in Folin reactive content following removal by ascorbate oxidase. According to the authors, ascorbate contributed 46% of the antioxidant content of the single tangerine juice measured. The authors also studied the polyphenol quality in the juices by using the inhibition of lower density lipoprotein oxidation promoted by cupric ion, an in vitro model of heart disease. Tangerine juice had the lowest polyphenol quality of the three juices. Hesperidin, ascorbic acid, and the citrus juices were not able to bind with LDL+VLDL and protect it from oxidation.
  • In a study by Murakami et al., the authors screened 31 citrus fruits for their suppressive activities toward three lines of free radical generating systems.2 These systems included O2- generation by the xanthine-xanthine oxidase system; O2- generation induced by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) in differentiated human promyelocytic HL-60 cells; and nitrous oxide (NO) generation in murine macrophage RAW264.7 cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide and interferon-gamma. The authors found that most peel parts had higher inhibitory activity than juice sac parts, with Dancy tangerine (Citrus tangerinia) showing marked anti-oxidative activities in these systems.
  • Rincon et al. noted that the tangerine's peel has a high antiradical efficiency that correlates with its polyphenol content.3
  • Cardiovascular effects: In a hamster model of atherosclerosis, tangerine juice and other citrus juices significantly inhibited atherosclerosis and lowered cholesterol and triglycerides.1 The authors noted that ascorbic acid alone in the dose provided by the juices had the same effect on atherosclerosis. Preliminary laboratory study results suggest that tangerine peel may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease because the studied samples were good sources of dietary fiber and phenolic (antiradical) compounds.3
  • Cancer prevention: Yuan et al. conducted a population-based case-control study in Shanghai, China to investigate the association between dietary factors and risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma.9 Nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients aged 15 to 74 years (N=935) and 1,032 community controls were included in the study. The authors found that exposure to salted fish and other protein-containing preserved food was associated with an increased risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and that a high intake of oranges/tangerines was associated with a statistically significant reduction in risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (OR=0.55, p for linear trend <0.001). The authors found that subjects who consumed higher amounts of preserved food and little orange/tangerine intake had a three-fold increase in risk (95% CI=2.08-4.91) compared with those who consumed little preserved food and a higher amounts of orange/tangerine.
  • Chemotherapy adjunct: Liu et al. conducted a case-control study of postoperative osteogenic sarcoma cases (N=32) treated by chemotherapy combined with Chinese medicinal herbs.10 The cases were compared with a control group of consisting of 26 similar cases who received chemotherapy alone. Although the control group experienced side effects consistent with the literature, the Chinese medicinal herbs group had statistically fewer toxic effects. The medicinal herbs included Pinellia ternata, Amomum cardamomum, Bambusa textilis, and Citrus reticulata.
  • CYP450 effects: In an in vitro study of human liver microsomes, tangeretin found in tangerine juice potently and selectively stimulated midazolam 1'-hydroxylation and complementary deoxyribonucleic acid-expressed CYP3A4.11 However, the authors noted that tangerine juice is unlikely to have a clinical effect on CYP3A4 in humans.


  • CYP450 effects: In an in vitro study of human liver microsomes, tangeretin found in tangerine juice potently and regioselectively stimulated midazolam 1'-hydroxylation and complementary deoxyribonucleic acid-expressed CYP3A4.11 However, the authors noted that tangerine juice is unlikely to have a clinical effect on CYP3A4 in humans.
  • Wingerath et al. studied the uptake of beta-cryptoxanthin esters upon ingestion of tangerine juice concentrate.12 According to the authors, increasing amounts of free beta-cryptoxanthin were detected in chylomicrons and serum. At t=6 hours, peak levels in chylomicrons were reached, and the concentration returned toward basal levels at t=9 hours. No beta-cryptoxanthin esters were detected in chylomicrons or serum, indicating efficient cleavage in the intestine before the carotenoid is incorporated into lipoproteins by the liver. Other xanthophyll esters, e.g. of zeaxanthin and lutein, were present in low amounts in the tangerine concentrate. As with beta-cryptoxanthin, no esters appeared in serum or chylomicrons, suggesting that the cleavage of carotenoid esters prior to release into the lymphatic circulation generally occurs in human oxocarotenoid biokinetics.


  1. Vinson, J. A., Liang, X., Proch, J., Hontz, B. A., Dancel, J., and Sandone, N. Polyphenol antioxidants in citrus juices: in vitro and in vivo studies relevant to heart disease. Adv Exp Med Biol 2002;505:113-122. 12083455
  2. Murakami, A., Nakamura, Y., Ohto, Y., Yano, M., Koshiba, T., Koshimizu, K., Tokuda, H., Nishino, H., and Ohigashi, H. Suppressive effects of citrus fruits on free radical generation and nobiletin, an anti-inflammatory polymethoxyflavonoid. Biofactors 2000;12(1-4):187-192. 11216485
  3. Rincon, A. M., Vasquez, A. M., and Padilla, F. C. [Chemical composition and bioactive compounds of flour of orange (Citrus sinensis), tangerine (Citrus reticulata) and grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) peels cultivated in Venezuela]. Arch Latinoam Nutr 2005;55(3):305-310. 16454058
  4. Sugiyama, S., Umehara, K., Kuroyanagi, M., Ueno, A., and Taki, T. Studies on the differentiation inducers of myeloid leukemic cells from Citrus species. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 1993;41(4):714-719. 8508474
  5. Kim, M. J., Park, H. J., Hong, M. S., Park, H. J., Kim, M. S., Leem, K. H., Kim, J. B., Kim, Y. J., and Kim, H. K. Citrus Reticulata blanco induces apoptosis in human gastric cancer cells SNU-668. Nutr Cancer 2005;51(1):78-82. 15749633
  6. Kang, S. A., Park, H. J., Kim, M. J., Lee, S. Y., Han, S. W., and Leem, K. H. Citri Reticulatae Viride Pericarpium extract induced apoptosis in SNU-C4, human colon cancer cells. J Ethnopharmacol 2-28-2005;97(2):231-235. 15707758
  7. Li, Y., Xu, C., Zhang, Q., Liu, J. Y., and Tan, R. X. In vitro anti-Helicobacter pylori action of 30 Chinese herbal medicines used to treat ulcer diseases. J Ethnopharmacol 4-26-2005;98(3):329-333. 15814268
  8. Tian, Q., Miller, E. G., Ahmad, H., Tang, L., and Patil, B. S. Differential inhibition of human cancer cell proliferation by citrus limonoids. Nutr Cancer 2001;40(2):180-184. 11962254
  9. Yuan, J. M., Wang, X. L., Xiang, Y. B., Gao, Y. T., Ross, R. K., and Yu, M. C. Preserved foods in relation to risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma in Shanghai, China. Int J Cancer 2-1-2000;85(3):358-363. 10652427
  10. Liu, J. Q. and Wu, D. W. [32 cases of postoperative osteogenic sarcoma treated by chemotherapy combined with Chinese medicinal herbs]. Zhongguo Zhong i Yi Jie e Za Zhi 1993;13(3):150-2, 132. 8339032
  11. Backman, J. T., Maenpaa, J., Belle, D. J., Wrighton, S. A., Kivisto, K. T., and Neuvonen, P. J. Lack of correlation between in vitro and in vivo studies on the effects of tangeretin and tangerine juice on midazolam hydroxylation. Clin Pharmacol Ther 2000;67(4):382-390. 10801247
  12. Wingerath, T., Stahl, W., and Sies, H. beta-Cryptoxanthin selectively increases in human chylomicrons upon ingestion of tangerine concentrate rich in beta-cryptoxanthin esters. Arch Biochem Biophys 12-20-1995;324(2):385-390. 8554331
  13. Granado, F., Olmedilla, B., Blanco, I., and Rojas-Hidalgo, E. Major fruit and vegetable contributors to the main serum carotenoids in the Spanish diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 1996;50(4):246-250. 8730612
  14. Irwig, M. S., El Sohemy, A., Baylin, A., Rifai, N., and Campos, H. Frequent intake of tropical fruits that are rich in beta-cryptoxanthin is associated with higher plasma beta-cryptoxanthin concentrations in Costa Rican adolescents. J Nutr 2002;132(10):3161-3167. 12368412

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