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Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Jun;47(6):1209-20. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2009.02.014. Epub 2009 Feb 20.

Metabolic profiling and biological capacity of Pieris brassicae fed with kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala).

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Research Group on Quality, Safety and Bioactivity of Plant Foods, Department of Food Science and Technology, CEBAS (CSIC), P.O. Box 164, 30100 Campus University Espinardo, Murcia, Spain.


Phenolic and organic acid profiles of aqueous extracts from Pieris brassicae material and the host kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala) leaves were determined by HPLC/UV-DAD/MS(n)-ESI and HPLC-UV, respectively. The identified phenolics included acylated and nonacylated flavonoid glycosides, hydroxycinnamic acyl gentiobiosides, and sulphate phenolics. Kale exhibited the highest content (11g/kg lyophilized extract), while no phenolics were identified in the butterflies or exuviae. Nine different organic acids were characterized in the materials, with kale showing the highest amount (112g/kg lyophilized extract). With the exception of the exuviae extract, the rest were screened for bioactivity. Using spectrophotometric microassays, all exhibited antiradical capacity against DPPH and NO in a concentration-dependent way, whereas only kale and excrement extracts were active against superoxide. All displayed activity on intestinal smooth muscle, albeit with distinct relaxation-contraction profiles. Larvae and butterfly extracts were more efficacious for intestinal relaxation than was kale extract, whereas excrement extract evoked only contractions, thus evidencing their different compositions. Collectively, these results show that P. brassicae sequesters and metabolizes kale's phenolic compounds. Moreover, the extract's bioactivities suggest that they may constitute an interesting source of bioactive compounds whose complex chemical structures preclude either synthesis or isolation.

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