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J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Nov 15;54(23):8655-81.

Potato glycoalkaloids and metabolites: roles in the plant and in the diet.

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Western Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Albany, California 94710, USA.


Potatoes, members of the Solanaceae plant family, serve as major, inexpensive low-fat food sources providing energy (starch), high-quality protein, fiber, and vitamins. Potatoes also produce biologically active secondary metabolites, which may have both adverse and beneficial effects in the diet. These include glycoalkaloids, calystegine alkaloids, protease inhibitors, lectins, phenolic compounds, and chlorophyll. Because glycoalkaloids are reported to be involved in host-plant resistance and to have a variety of adverse as well as beneficial effects in cells, animals, and humans, a need exists to develop a clearer understanding of their roles both in the plant and in the diet. To contribute to this effort, this integrated review presents data on the (a) history of glycoalkaloids; (b) glycoalkaloid content in different parts of the potato plant, in processed potato products, and in wild, transgenic, and organic potatoes; (c) biosynthesis, inheritance, plant molecular biology, and glycoalkaloid-plant phytopathogen relationships; (d) dietary significance with special focus on the chemistry, analysis, and nutritional quality of low-glycoalkaloid potato protein; (e) pharmacology and toxicology of the potato glycoalkaloids comprising alpha-chaconine and alpha-solanine and their hydrolysis products (metabolites); (f) anticarcinogenic and other beneficial effects; and (g) possible dietary consequences of concurrent consumption of glycoalkaloids and other biologically active compounds present in fresh and processed potatoes. An enhanced understanding of the multiple and overlapping aspects of glycoalkaloids in the plant and in the diet will benefit producers and consumers of potatoes.

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