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J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Dec 26;55(26):10664-70. Epub 2007 Dec 4.

Suppressive effect of a proanthocyanidin-rich extract from longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour.) flowers on nitric oxide production in LPS-stimulated macrophage cells.

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Department of Food Science, Yuanpei University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.


Anthocyanidins found in certain flowers have been shown to act as strong antioxidants in various systems, exhibiting multiple biological actions. The antioxidative effects of water extract and ethanolic extract of longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour.) flowers were evaluated by radical scavenging activity and compared to those of gallic acid, myricetin, and epigallocatechin gallate. In this study, the suppressive effects of longan flower extracts on nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2 production were investigated using a lipopolysaccharide-stimulated RAW 264.7 cell model. Abundant levels of phenolic compounds including flavonoids, condensed tannins, and proanthocyanidins were found in water or ethanolic extracts prepared from dried longan flowers. The antioxidative effect of longan flower extract was similar to the effect exhibited by pure antioxidants. Moreover, longan flower extract showed prominent inhibitory effects on prostaglandin E2 production. Significant concentration-dependent inhibition of nitric oxide production was detected when cells were cotreated with lipopolysaccharide and various concentrations of longan flower extracts. These inhibitory effects were further attributed to suppression of inducible nitric oxide synthase protein expression and not to reduced enzymatic activity. These results suggest that longan flower crude extracts, especially ethanolic extract, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and the probable mechanism involves inhibition of inflammation by proanthocyanidins. Preliminary observations suggest that longan flower extract, especially alcoholic extract, could be another potential source of natural dietary antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

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