Author(s): Zhang Z, Chang Q, Zhu M, Huang Y, Ho WK, Chen Z
Hawthorn fruit extract has been shown to have many health benefits including being cardiovascular protective, hypotensive and hypocholesterolemic. The present study was carried out to characterize further the antioxidants of hawthorn fruit and their effect on the oxidation of human low density lipoprotein (LDL) and alpha-tocopherol. The dry hawthorn fruit was extracted successively with ether, ethyl acetate, butanol and water. The ethyl acetate fraction was only effective in inhibition of Cu(+2)-mediated LDL oxidation. The column chromatographic separation led to isolation of eight pure compounds; namely, ursolic acid, hyperoside, isoquercitrin, epicatechin, chlorogenic acid, quercetin, rutin and protocatechuic acid. All of these phenolic compounds, except ursolic acid, were protective to human LDL from Cu(+2)-mediated LDL oxidation. They were also effective in preventing the peroxy free radical-induced oxidation of alpha-tocopherol in human LDL. The inhibitory effect of these compounds on oxidation of LDL and alpha-tocopherol was dose-dependent at concentrations ranging from 5 to 40 µM. In addition, supplementation of 2% hawthorn fruit powder significantly elevated serum alpha-tocopherol by 18-20% in rats fed a 30% polyunsaturated canola oil diet, as compared with the control. The present results suggest that part of the mechanism for cardiovascular protective effects of hawthorn fruit might also involve the direct protection to human LDL from oxidation or indirect protection via maintaining the concentration of alpha-tocopherol in human LDL.