Biochemical characterization and anti-inflammatory properties of an isothiocyanate-enriched moringa (Moringa oleifera) seed extract

PLoS One. 2017 Aug 8;12(8):e0182658. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182658. eCollection 2017.


Moringa oleifera Lam. is a tropical plant, used for centuries as food and traditional medicine. The aim of this study was to develop, validate and biochemically characterize an isothiocyanate-enriched moringa seed extract (MSE), and to compare the anti-inflammatory effects of MSE-containing moringa isothiocyanate-1 (MIC-1) with a curcuminoid-enriched turmeric extract (CTE), and a material further enriched in its primary phytochemical, curcumin (curcumin-enriched material; CEM). MSE was prepared by incubating ground moringa seeds with water to allow myrosinase-catalyzed enzymatic formation of bioactive MIC-1, the predominant isothiocyanate in moringa seeds. Optimization of the extraction process yielded an extract of 38.9% MIC-1. Phytochemical analysis of MSE revealed the presence of acetylated isothiocyanates, phenolic glycosides unique to moringa, flavonoids, fats and fatty acids, proteins and carbohydrates. MSE showed a reduction in the carrageenan-induced rat paw edema (33% at 500 mg/kg MIC-1) comparable to aspirin (27% at 300 mg/kg), whereas CTE did not have any significant effect. In vitro, MIC-1 at 1 μM significantly reduced the production of nitric oxide (NO) and at 5 μM, the gene expression of LPS-inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and interleukins 1β and 6 (IL-1β and IL-6), whereas CEM did not show any significant activity at all concentrations tested. MIC-1 (10μM) was also more effective at upregulating the nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) target genes NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1), glutathione S-transferase pi 1 (GSTP1), and heme oxygenase 1 (HO1) than the CEM. Thus, in contrast to CTE and CEM, MSE and its major isothiocyanate MIC-1 displayed strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in vivo and in vitro, making them promising botanical leads for the mitigation of inflammatory-mediated chronic disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / chemistry*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Carrageenan
  • Cell Line
  • Curcuma / chemistry
  • Curcumin / chemistry
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Edema / drug therapy
  • Edema / immunology
  • Hindlimb / drug effects
  • Hindlimb / immunology
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Isothiocyanates / chemistry
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Moringa oleifera / chemistry*
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry
  • Phytochemicals / isolation & purification
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Seeds / chemistry*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antioxidants
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts
  • isothiocyanic acid
  • Carrageenan
  • Curcumin