Special Issue "Natural Compounds in Plant-Based Food"

A special issue of Foods (ISSN 2304-8158). This special issue belongs to the section "Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 July 2022 | Viewed by 10161

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Andreas Eisenreich
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Department of Food Safety, Max-Dohrn-Str. 8–10, 10589 Berlin, Germany
Interests: food toxicology; clinical pharmacology; pharmacology; cardiorenal biology; genetics
Prof. Dr. Bernd Schaefer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Unit Food Toxicology, Department of Food Safety, Berlin, Germany
Interests: food toxicology; food safety

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Culinary herbs or spices confer characteristic flavor or coloring to food. In this Special Issue of Foods, we want to shed more light on culinary herbs and spices from a health perspective. Substances of plant origin are often regarded as harmless per se. The intention here is to give a science-based view on the health impact of ingredients occurring naturally in plants with a special focus on those present in plants used as culinary herbs and spices. In this context, different aspects will be addressed, including toxicological, analytical, and regulatory issues regarding naturally occurring ingredients in culinary herbs and spices as well as in products, such as essential oils, and food supplements based on them. For this purpose, some selected examples of these compounds will be utilized to illustrate potential effects on human health, together with knowledge gaps related to hazard and exposure assessment. Moreover, safety issues related to products, such as essential oils, or food supplements containing extracts of culinary herbs and spices that have become widely available to consumers through several distribution channels in the EU, will be covered.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Eisenreich
Prof. Dr. Bernd Schaefer
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Foods is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Culinary herbs or spices
  • Food flavor or food coloring
  • Health perspective
  • Plant origin
  • Health ingredients
  • Analytical and regulatory issues
  • Essential oils
  • Food supplements
  • Food safety

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
Identification of microRNAs Implicated in Modulating Senecionine-Induced Liver Toxicity in HepaRG Cells
Foods 2022, 11(4), 532; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11040532 - 12 Feb 2022
Viewed by 514
Abstract
1,2-unsaturated Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PAs) are secondary plant metabolites that occur as food contaminants. Upon consumption, they can cause severe liver damage. PAs have been shown to induce apoptosis, to have cytotoxic and genotoxic effects, and to impair bile acid homeostasis in the human [...] Read more.
1,2-unsaturated Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PAs) are secondary plant metabolites that occur as food contaminants. Upon consumption, they can cause severe liver damage. PAs have been shown to induce apoptosis, to have cytotoxic and genotoxic effects, and to impair bile acid homeostasis in the human hepatoma cell line HepaRG. The major mode of action of PAs is DNA- and protein-adduct formation. Beyond that, nuclear receptor activation has only been observed for one receptor and two PAs, yielding the possibility that other cellular mediators are involved in PA-mediated toxicity. Here, the mode of action of Senecionine (Sc), a prominent and ubiquitous representative of hepatotoxic PAs, was investigated by analyzing 7 hepatic microRNAs (miRNAs) in HepaRG cells. Ultimately, 11 target genes that were predicted with Ingenuity Pathway Analysis software (IPA) were found to be significantly downregulated, while their assigned miRNAs showed significant upregulation of gene expression. According to IPA, these targets are positively correlated with apoptosis and cellular death and are involved in diseases such as hepatocellular carcinoma. Subsequent antagomiR-inhibition analysis revealed a significant correlation between PA-induced miRNA-4434 induction and P21-Activated Kinase-1 (PAK1) downregulation. PAK1 downregulation is usually associated with cell cycle arrest, suggesting a new function of Sc-mediated toxicity in human liver cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Compounds in Plant-Based Food)
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Article
Phase II Metabolism of Asarone Isomers In Vitro and in Humans Using HPLC-MS/MS and HPLC-qToF/MS
Foods 2021, 10(9), 2032; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10092032 - 29 Aug 2021
Viewed by 709
Abstract
(1) Background: Metabolism data of asarone isomers, in particular phase II, in vitro and in humans is limited so far. For the first time, phase II metabolites of asarone isomers were characterized and human kinetic as well as excretion data after oral intake [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Metabolism data of asarone isomers, in particular phase II, in vitro and in humans is limited so far. For the first time, phase II metabolites of asarone isomers were characterized and human kinetic as well as excretion data after oral intake of asarone-containing tea infusion was determined. (2) Methods: A high pressure liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (HPLC-qTOF-MS) approach was used to identify phase II metabolites using liver microsomes of different species and in human urine samples. For quantitation of the respective glucuronides, a beta-glucuronidase treatment was performed prior to analysis via high pressure liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). (3) Results: Ingested beta-asarone and erythro and threo-asarone diols were excreted as diols and respective diol glucuronide conjugates within 24 h. An excretion rate about 42% was estimated. O-Demethylation of beta-asarone was also indicated as a human metabolic pathway because a corresponding glucuronic acid conjugate was suggested. (4) Conclusions: Already reported O-demethylation and epoxide-derived diols formation in phase I metabolism of beta-asarone in vitro was verified in humans and glucuronidation was characterized as main conjugation reaction. The excretion rate of 42% as erythro and threo-asarone diols and respective asarone diol glucuronides suggests that epoxide formation is a key step in beta-asarone metabolism, but further, as yet unknown metabolites should also be taken into consideration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Compounds in Plant-Based Food)
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Article
Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in the Food Chain: Is Horizontal Transfer of Natural Products of Relevance?
Foods 2021, 10(8), 1827; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10081827 - 07 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 839
Abstract
Recent studies have raised the question whether there is a potential threat by a horizontal transfer of toxic plant constituents such as pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) between donor-PA-plants and acceptor non-PA-plants. This topic raised concerns about food and feed safety in the recent years. [...] Read more.
Recent studies have raised the question whether there is a potential threat by a horizontal transfer of toxic plant constituents such as pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) between donor-PA-plants and acceptor non-PA-plants. This topic raised concerns about food and feed safety in the recent years. The purpose of the study described here was to investigate and evaluate horizontal transfer of PAs between donor and acceptor-plants by conducting a series of field trials using the PA-plant Lappula squarrosa as model and realistic agricultural conditions. Additionally, the effect of PA-plant residues recycling in the form of composts or press-cakes were investigated. The PA-transfer and the PA-content of soil, plants, and plant waste products was determined in form of a single sum parameter method using high-performance liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy (HPLC-ESI-MS/MS). PA-transfer from PA-donor to acceptor-plants was frequently observed at low rates during the vegetative growing phase especially in cases of close spatial proximity. However, at the time of harvest no PAs were detected in the relevant field products (grains). For all investigated agricultural scenarios, horizontal transfer of PAs is of no concern with regard to food or feed safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Compounds in Plant-Based Food)
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Article
The Food Contaminants Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids Disturb Bile Acid Homeostasis Structure-Dependently in the Human Hepatoma Cell Line HepaRG
Foods 2021, 10(5), 1114; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10051114 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 664
Abstract
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are a group of secondary plant metabolites being contained in various plant species. The consumption of contaminated food can lead to acute intoxications in humans and exert severe hepatotoxicity. The development of jaundice and elevated bile acid concentrations in blood [...] Read more.
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are a group of secondary plant metabolites being contained in various plant species. The consumption of contaminated food can lead to acute intoxications in humans and exert severe hepatotoxicity. The development of jaundice and elevated bile acid concentrations in blood have been reported in acute human PA intoxication, indicating a connection between PA exposure and the induction of cholestasis. Additionally, it is considered that differences in toxicity of individual PAs is based on their individual chemical structures. Therefore, we aimed to elucidate the structure-dependent disturbance of bile acid homeostasis by PAs in the human hepatoma cell line HepaRG. A set of 14 different PAs, including representatives of all major structural characteristics, namely, the four different necine bases retronecine, heliotridine, otonecine and platynecine and different grades of esterification, was analyzed in regard to the expression of genes involved in bile acid synthesis, metabolism and transport. Additionally, intra- and extracellular bile acid levels were analyzed after PA treatment. In summary, our data show significant structure-dependent effects of PAs on bile acid homeostasis. Especially PAs of diester type caused the strongest dysregulation of expression of genes associated with cholestasis and led to a strong decrease of intra- and extracellular bile acid concentrations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Compounds in Plant-Based Food)
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Article
Spices in the Apiaceae Family Represent the Healthiest Fatty Acid Profile: A Systematic Comparison of 34 Widely Used Spices and Herbs
Foods 2021, 10(4), 854; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10040854 - 14 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1098
Abstract
Spices and herbs are well-known for being rich in healthy bioactive metabolites. In recent years, interest in the fatty acid composition of different foods has greatly increased. Thus, the present study was designed to characterize the fatty acid composition of 34 widely used [...] Read more.
Spices and herbs are well-known for being rich in healthy bioactive metabolites. In recent years, interest in the fatty acid composition of different foods has greatly increased. Thus, the present study was designed to characterize the fatty acid composition of 34 widely used spices and herbs. Utilizing gas chromatography (GC) flame ionization detection (FID) and GC mass spectrometry (MS), we identified and quantified 18 fatty acids. This showed a significant variation among the studied spices and herbs. In general, oleic and linoleic acid dominate in seed spices, whereas palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and α-linolenic acids are the major constituents of herbs. Among the studied spices and herbs, the ratio of n−6/n−3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) was recorded to be in the range of 0.36 (oregano) to 85.99 (cumin), whereas the ratio of PUFAs/saturated fatty acids (SFAs) ranged from 0.17 (nutmeg) to 4.90 (cumin). Cumin, coriander, fennel, and dill seeds represent the healthiest fatty acid profile, based upon fat quality indices such as the ratio of hypocholesterolemic/hypercholesterolemic (h/H) fatty acids, the atherogenic index (AI), and the thrombogenic index (TI). All these seed spices belong to the Apiaceae family of plants, which are an exceptionally rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in the form of petroselinic acid (C18:1n12), with a very small amount of SFAs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Compounds in Plant-Based Food)
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Article
Variation in the Chemical Composition of Five Varieties of Curcuma longa Rhizome Essential Oils Cultivated in North Alabama
Foods 2021, 10(2), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10020212 - 21 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 821
Abstract
Turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) is an important spice, particularly is Asian cuisine, and is also used in traditional herbal medicine. Curcuminoids are the main bioactive agents in turmeric, but turmeric essential oils also contain health benefits. Turmeric is a tropical crop and [...] Read more.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) is an important spice, particularly is Asian cuisine, and is also used in traditional herbal medicine. Curcuminoids are the main bioactive agents in turmeric, but turmeric essential oils also contain health benefits. Turmeric is a tropical crop and is cultivated in warm humid environments worldwide. The southeastern United States also possesses a warm humid climate with a growing demand for locally sourced herbs and spices. In this study, five different varieties of C. longa were cultivated in north Alabama, the rhizome essential oils obtained by hydrodistillation, and the essential oils were analyzed by gas chromatographic techniques. The major components in the essential oils were α-phellandrene (3.7–11.8%), 1,8-cineole (2.6–11.7%), α-zingiberene (0.8–12.5%), β-sesquiphellandrene (0.7–8.0%), ar-turmerone (6.8–32.5%), α-turmerone (13.6–31.5%), and β-turmerone (4.8–18.4%). The essential oil yields and chemical profiles of several of the varieties are comparable with those from tropical regions, suggesting that these should be considered for cultivation and commercialization in the southeastern United States. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Compounds in Plant-Based Food)
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Article
Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids Disturb Bile Acid Homeostasis in the Human Hepatoma Cell Line HepaRG
Foods 2021, 10(1), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10010161 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 907
Abstract
1,2-unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) belong to a group of secondary plant metabolites. Exposure to PA-contaminated feed and food may cause severe hepatotoxicity. A pathway possibly involved in PA toxicity is the disturbance of bile acid homeostasis. Therefore, in this study, the influence of [...] Read more.
1,2-unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) belong to a group of secondary plant metabolites. Exposure to PA-contaminated feed and food may cause severe hepatotoxicity. A pathway possibly involved in PA toxicity is the disturbance of bile acid homeostasis. Therefore, in this study, the influence of four structurally different PAs on bile acid homeostasis was investigated after single (24 h) and repeated (14 days) exposure using the human hepatoma cell line HepaRG. PAs induce a downregulation of gene expression of various hepatobiliary transporters, enzymes involved in bile acid synthesis, and conjugation, as well as several transcription regulators in HepaRG cells. This repression may lead to a progressive impairment of bile acid homeostasis, having the potential to accumulate toxic bile acids. However, a significant intracellular and extracellular decrease in bile acids was determined, pointing to an overall inhibition of bile acid synthesis and transport. In summary, our data clearly show that PAs structure-dependently impair bile acid homeostasis and secretion by inhibiting the expression of relevant genes involved in bile acid homeostasis. Furthermore, important biliary efflux mechanisms seem to be disturbed due to PA exposure. These mole-cular mechanisms may play an important role in the development of severe liver damage in PA-intoxicated humans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Compounds in Plant-Based Food)
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Review

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Review
Alkenylbenzenes in Foods: Aspects Impeding the Evaluation of Adverse Health Effects
Foods 2021, 10(9), 2139; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10092139 - 10 Sep 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 943
Abstract
Alkenylbenzenes are naturally occurring secondary plant metabolites, primarily present in different herbs and spices, such as basil or fennel seeds. Thus, alkenylbenzenes, such as safrole, methyleugenol, and estragole, can be found in different foods, whenever these herbs and spices (or extracts thereof) are [...] Read more.
Alkenylbenzenes are naturally occurring secondary plant metabolites, primarily present in different herbs and spices, such as basil or fennel seeds. Thus, alkenylbenzenes, such as safrole, methyleugenol, and estragole, can be found in different foods, whenever these herbs and spices (or extracts thereof) are used for food production. In particular, essential oils or other food products derived from the aforementioned herbs and spices, such as basil-containing pesto or plant food supplements, are often characterized by a high content of alkenylbenzenes. While safrole or methyleugenol are known to be genotoxic and carcinogenic, the toxicological relevance of other alkenylbenzenes (e.g., apiol) regarding human health remains widely unclear. In this review, we will briefly summarize and discuss the current knowledge and the uncertainties impeding a conclusive evaluation of adverse effects to human health possibly resulting from consumption of foods containing alkenylbenzenes, especially focusing on the genotoxic compounds, safrole, methyleugenol, and estragole. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Compounds in Plant-Based Food)
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Review
Safety Aspects of the Use of Isolated Piperine Ingested as a Bolus
Foods 2021, 10(9), 2121; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10092121 - 08 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1379
Abstract
Piperine is a natural ingredient of Piper nigrum (black pepper) and some other Piper species. Compared to the use of pepper for food seasoning, piperine is used in food supplements in an isolated, concentrated form and ingested as a bolus. The present review [...] Read more.
Piperine is a natural ingredient of Piper nigrum (black pepper) and some other Piper species. Compared to the use of pepper for food seasoning, piperine is used in food supplements in an isolated, concentrated form and ingested as a bolus. The present review focuses on the assessment of the possible critical health effects regarding the use of isolated piperine as a single ingredient in food supplements. In human and animal studies with single or short-term bolus application of isolated piperine, interactions with several drugs, in most cases resulting in increased drug bioavailability, were observed. Depending on the drug and extent of the interaction, such interactions may carry the risk of unintended deleteriously increased or adverse drug effects. Animal studies with higher daily piperine bolus doses than in human interaction studies provide indications of disturbance of spermatogenesis and of maternal reproductive and embryotoxic effects. Although the available human studies rarely reported effects that were regarded as being adverse, their suitability for detailed risk assessment is limited due to an insufficient focus on safety parameters apart from drug interactions, as well as due to the lack of investigation of the potentially adverse effects observed in animal studies and/or combined administration of piperine with other substances. Taken together, it appears advisable to consider the potential health risks related to intake of isolated piperine in bolus form, e.g., when using certain food supplements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Compounds in Plant-Based Food)
Review
Biologically Active Compounds in Mustard Seeds: A Toxicological Perspective
Foods 2021, 10(9), 2089; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10092089 - 03 Sep 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1115
Abstract
Mustard plants have been widely cultivated and used as spice, medicine and as source of edible oils. Currently, the use of the seeds of the mustard species Sinapis alba (white mustard or yellow mustard), Brassica juncea (brown mustard) and Brassica nigra (black mustard) [...] Read more.
Mustard plants have been widely cultivated and used as spice, medicine and as source of edible oils. Currently, the use of the seeds of the mustard species Sinapis alba (white mustard or yellow mustard), Brassica juncea (brown mustard) and Brassica nigra (black mustard) in the food and beverage industry is immensely growing due to their nutritional and functional properties. The seeds serve as a source for a wide range of biologically active components including isothiocyanates that are responsible for the specific flavor of mustard, and tend to reveal conflicting results regarding possible health effects. Other potentially undesirable or toxic compounds, such as bisphenol F, erucic acid or allergens, may also occur in the seeds and in mustard products intended for human consumption. The aim of this article is to provide comprehensive information about potentially harmful compounds in mustard seeds and to evaluate potential health risks as an increasing use of mustard seeds is expected in the upcoming years. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Compounds in Plant-Based Food)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

1) Tentative title: Alkenylbenzenes: occurrence, toxicity and regulatory aspects

Authors: Andreas Eisenreich*, Mario Götz, Benjamin Sachse, Rainer Gürtler, Bernhard Monien, Klaus Abraham, Bernd Schäfer

Affiliation: German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Department of Food Safety, Berlin, Germany

2) Tentative title: Pyrrolizidine alkaloids disturb bile acid homeostasis in the human hepatoma cell line HepaRG

Authors: Julia Waizenegger1, Josephin Glück1, Marcus Henricsson2, Claudia Luckert1, Albert Braeuning1, Stefanie Hessel-Pras1

Affiliation: 1German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Department of Food Safety, Berlin, Germany; 2Wallenberg Laboratory and Sahlgrenska Center for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, Institute of Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

3) Tentative title: Bioactive compounds in mustard cultivars

Authors: Julika Lietzow

Affiliation: German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Department of Food Safety, Berlin, Germany

4) Tentative title: Structure-dependent disturbance of bile acid homeostasis by pyrrolizidine alkaloids

Authors: Josephin Glück1, Marcus Henricsson2, Albert Braeuning1, Stefanie Hessel-Pras1

Affiliation: 1German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Department of Food Safety, Berlin, Germany; 2Wallenberg Laboratory and Sahlgrenska Center for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, Institute of Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

5) Tentative title: Risk assessment regarding the use of Annona muricata in food supplements

Authors: Ancuta CristinaRaclariu-Manolica1,2,3, Nadiya Bakhiya1, Karen Ildico Hirsch-Ernst1

Affiliation: 1German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Department of Food Safety, Berlin, Germany;2National Institute of Research and Development for Biological Sciences (NIRDBS), Stejarul Biological Research Centre, Piatra Neamt, Romania; 3European Food Risk Assessment Fellowship Programme (EU-FORA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy

6) Tentative title: Pyrrolizidine alkaloids affect mRNA expression profile in human HepaRG cells

Authors: Anne-Margarethe Enge, Albert Braeuning, Stefanie Hessel-Pras

Affiliation: German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Department of Food Safety, Berlin, Germany

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