Aqueous extracts of avocado pear (Persea americana Mill.) leaves and seeds exhibit anti-cholinesterases and antioxidant activities in vitro

J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2016 Mar;27(2):131-40. doi: 10.1515/jbcpp-2015-0049.


Background: Avocado pear (Persea americana Mill.) leaves and seeds are used in traditional medicine for the treatment/management of Alzheimer disease (AD); however, information on the mechanism of actions is limited. This study sought to investigate the effect of P. americana leaf and seed aqueous extracts on some enzymes linked with AD (acetylcholinesterase [AChE] and butyrylcholinesterase [BChE] activities) and their antioxidant potentials in vitro.

Methods: The inhibitory effects of extracts on AChE and BChE activities and antioxidant potentials (inhibition of Fe2+- and sodium nitroprusside-induced thiobarbiturate reactive species [TBARS] production in rat brain homogenates, radicals [1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl, hydroxyl, and nitric oxide] scavenging and iron [Fe] chelation abilities) were investigated. Phenolic content and phytochemical screening were carried out. Alkaloid profile was also determined using gas chromatography coupled with flame ionization detector (GC-FID).

Results: The extracts inhibited AChE and BChE activities and prooxidant-induced TBARS production in a dose-dependent manner, with the seed extract having the highest inhibitory effect and the leaf extract exhibiting higher phenolic content and radical scavenging abilities, but lower Fe chelation ability compared with that of the seed. The phytochemical screening revealed the presence of saponins, alkaloids, and terpenoids in both extracts, whereas the total alkaloid profile was higher in the seed extract than in the leaf extract, as revealed by GC-FID.

Conclusions: The anti-cholinesterase and antioxidant activities of avocado leaf and seed could be linked to their phytoconstituents and might be the possible mechanisms underlying their use as a cheap and natural treatment/management of AD. However, these extracts should be further investigated in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism
  • Alkaloids / pharmacology
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Butyrylcholinesterase / metabolism
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Free Radical Scavengers / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Persea / chemistry*
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Saponins / pharmacology
  • Seeds / chemistry*
  • Terpenes / pharmacology


  • Alkaloids
  • Antioxidants
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Phenols
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts
  • Saponins
  • Terpenes
  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Butyrylcholinesterase