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Phytochemical composition and in vitro antioxidant activities of Citrus sinensis peel extracts

Sok Sian Liew, Wan Yong Ho, Swee Keong Yeap, Shaiful Adzni Bin Sharifudin
PeerJ 2018, 6: e5331

Background: Citrus sinensis peels are usually discarded as wastes; however, they are rich sources of Vitamin C, fibre, and many nutrients, including phenolics and flavonoids which are also good antioxidant agents. This study aimed to examine phytochemical composition and antioxidant capabilities of C. sinensis peel extracted conventionally with different methanol/water, ethanol/water, and acetone/water solvents.

Methods: C. sinensis peels were subjected to extraction with 100%, 70% and 50% of methanol, ethanol, and acetone, respectively, as well as hot water extraction. Antioxidant activities of the peel extracts were examined via the 2,2-diphenylpicrylhydrazyl (DPPH) free radical scavenging activity, ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) assay, and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay. Total phenolic content and total flavonoid content of the extracts were measured via the Folin-Ciocalteau method and the aluminium chloride colorimetric method, respectively. Phenolic acid and organic acid composition of the peel extracts were further determined via high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) while flavonoid content was identified via ultra performance liquid chromatography (UPLC).

Results: DPPH radical scavenging activity of C. sinensis peel extracts varied from 8.35 to 18.20 mg TE/g, FRAP ranged from 95.00 to 296.61 mmol Fe(II)/g, while ORAC value ranged from 0.31 to 0.92 mol TE/g. Significant level of association between the assays was observed especially between TPC and FRAP (R-square = 0.95, P  < 0.0001). TPC of various C. sinensis peel extracts ranged from 12.08 to 38.24 mg GAE/g, with 70% acetone/water extract (AEC) showing the highest TPC. TFC ranged from 1.90 to 5.51 mg CE/g. Extraction yield ranged from 0.33 to 0.54 g/g DW and tended to increase with increasing water concentration in the solvent. In the phytochemical investigation, five phenolic acids were identified using HPLC, including gallic acid, protocatechuic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, caffeic acid and ferulic acid. A total of five organic acids including lactic acid, citric acid, L-mallic acid, kojic acid and ascorbic acid were quantified via HPLC. In addition, concentrations of six flavonoids including catechin, epigallocatechin, vitexin, rutin, luteolin and apigenin were determined via UPLC.

Discussion and Conclusion: Phytochemicals including phenolics and flavonoids in C. sinensis peel extracts exhibited good antioxidant properties. Among the extracts, 70% AEC with highest TPC and high TFC content showed greatest antioxidant activity in all three assays. Different phenolic acids, organic acids and flavonoids were also identified from the extracts. This study indicated that C. sinensis peels contained potential antioxidant compounds which could be exploited as value added products in the food industry.


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