A split plot 3 by 4 experiment was designed to characterize the relationship between production of gluthatione (GSH), oxidized gluthatione (GSSG), total flavonoid, anthocyanin, ascorbic acid and antioxidant activities (FRAP and DPPH) in three varieties of Labisia pumila Blume, namely the varieties alata, pumila and lanceolata, under four levels of nitrogen fertilization (0, 90, 180 and 270 kg N/ha) for 15 weeks. The treatment effects were solely contributed by nitrogen application; there was neither varietal nor interaction effects observed. As the nitrogen levels decreased from 270 to 0 kg N/ha, the production of GSH and GSSG, anthocyanin, total flavonoid and ascorbic acid increased steadily. At the highest nitrogen treatment level, L. pumila exhibited significantly lower antioxidant activities (DPPH and FRAP) than those exposed to limited nitrogen growing conditions. Significant positive correlation was obtained between antioxidant activities (DPPH and FRAP), total flavonoid, GSH, GSSG, anthocyanin and ascorbic acid suggesting that an increase in the antioxidative activities in L. pumila under low nitrogen fertilization could be attributed to higher contents of these compounds. From this observation, it could be concluded that in order to avoid negative effects on the quality of L. pumila, it is advisable to avoid excessive application of nitrogen fertilizer when cultivating the herb for its medicinal use.
Keywords: DPPH radical scavenging; Labisia pumila Blume; ferric reducing antioxidant power; gluthatione; nitrogen fertilization; plant secondary metabolites.