Phytochemical compositions of extract from peel of hawthorn fruit, and its antioxidant capacity, cell growth inhibition, and acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Mar 11;17(1):151. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-1662-y.


Background: Hawthorn fruit (HF) is a well-known traditional medicine in China with the effects of improving digestion and regulating qi-flowing for removing blood stasis. Modern pharmacological experiments showed that HF extract has various pharmaceutical properties and flavonoids are considered as the main bioactive compounds. In this paper, Diaion HP-20 adsorption chromatography was used to enrich flavonoids in PHF, and the phytochemical composition of EPHF was analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS). In addition, EPHF's antioxidant capacity, acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitory activity and cytotoxic activity were evaluated.

Methods: EPHF was obtained by Diaion HP-20 adsorption chromatography. Phytochemical composition of EPHF was analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively using HPLC and LC-MS. Radical scavenging capacity of EPHF was estimated using 2,2-diphenyl-1-picryhydrazyl (DPPH) assay and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay. The AChE inhibitory activity of EPHF was evaluated by Ellman method. Cytotoxic activity of EPHF was assessed by means of MTT assay.

Results: Eight kinds of components were identified, in which ideain with the value of 179.4 mg/g was identified to be present in the highest level in EPHF, followed by (-)-epicatechin, chlorogenic acid, cyanidin 3-arabinoside, hyperoside and isoquercitrin at the concentrations of 40.9, 10.0, 1.4, 0.4 and 0.2 mg/g, respectively. The contents of these compounds in EPHF were much higher than those in PHF and HF. In addition, EPHF exhibited strong antioxidant and AChE inhibitory activity (ORAC value: 11.65 ± 2.37 μM Trolox equivalents (TE)/mg, DPPH IC50 value: 6.72 μg/mL, anti-AChE activity IC50 value: 11.72 μg/mL) compared with PHF and HF. Moreover, EPHF exhibited high levels of cytotoxicity on MCF-7 and SKOV-3 human tumour cell lines in a dose-dependent manner with the IC50 of 2.76 and 80.11 μg/mL, respectively.

Conclusions: Macroporous resin is useful for the extraction and separation of the total flavonoids from PHF. The contents of flavonoids especially anthocyanin in EPHF were increased significantly compared with the PHF, and EPHF exhibited strong antioxidant, AChE inhibitory activity and cytotoxicity on human tumour cells.

Keywords: AChE inhibitory activity; Antioxidant capacity; Cell growth inhibition; Hawthorn peel; Macroporous resin extract; Phytochemical composition.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / analysis
  • Acetylcholinesterase / drug effects*
  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Crataegus / chemistry*
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts
  • Acetylcholinesterase