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PLoS One. 2017 Jul 21;12(7):e0180889. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0180889. eCollection 2017.

Multi-approach metabolomics analysis and artificial simplified phytocomplexes reveal cultivar-dependent synergy between polyphenols and ascorbic acid in fruits of the sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.).

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Department of Biotechnology, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.
Department of Biological, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.
Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.


Fruits of the sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) accumulate a range of antioxidants that can help to prevent cardiovascular disease, inflammation and cancer. We tested the in vitro antioxidant activity of 18 sweet cherry cultivars collected from 12 farms in the protected geographical indication region of Marostica (Vicenza, Italy) during two growing seasons. Multiple targeted and untargeted metabolomics approaches (NMR, LC-MS, HPLC-DAD, HPLC-UV) as well as artificial simplified phytocomplexes representing the cultivars Sandra Tardiva, Sandra and Grace Star were then used to determine whether the total antioxidant activity reflected the additive effects of each compound or resulted from synergistic interactions. We found that the composition of each cultivar depended more on genetic variability than environmental factors. Furthermore, phenolic compounds were the principal source of antioxidant activity and experiments with artificial simplified phytocomplexes indicated strong synergy between the anthocyanins and quercetins/ascorbic acid specifically in the cultivar Sandra Tardiva. Our data therefore indicate that the total antioxidant activity of sweet cherry fruits may originate from cultivar-dependent interactions among different classes of metabolite.

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