Bioactive lignans from sesame (Sesamum indicum L.): evaluation of their antioxidant and antibacterial effects for food applications


Antioxidants protect the body from various disease conditions through their ability to neutralize the effects of free radicals. Synthetic antioxidants are extensively used in processed foods for prevention of oxidation and retention of sensory quality. Consumer awareness and preference has led to a vigorous interest in the search for natural antioxidants. Sesamin and sesamolin, the major lignans present in sesame oil, are known for their antioxidative properties. Roasted sesame oil has a higher concentration of sesamol, the thermally degraded product of sesamolin, which is considered a more potent antioxidant compared to its parent molecule. The isolated lignans and sesamol were tested for their antioxidant, free radical scavenging and antibacterial properties. Sesamol is the best antioxidant and free radical scavenger amongst the molecules studied with IC50 value of 5.44 μg / mL (DPPH radical scavenging activity). Antibacterial assays against food borne pathogens revealed sesamol to be an antimicrobial agent with minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) of 2 mg /mL in the culture. Its activity was synergistic with γ-tocopherol, also present in sesame seeds. Inhibition of browning (60–65 %) in fruit pulps (apple, banana and potato) was observed in presence of 20 μM sesamol.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. Amarowicz R, Shahidi F, Pegg RB (2001) Application of semipreparative RP-18 HPLC for the purification of sesamin and sesamolin. J Food Lipids 8:85–94

  2. Apak R, Gorinstein S, Böhm V, Schaich KM, Özyüre M, Güçlü K (2013) Methods of measurement and evaluation of natural antioxidant capacity/activity (IUPAC Technical Report). Pure Appl Chem 85(5):957–998

  3. Benzie IF, Strain JJ (1996) The ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP) as a measure of ‘antioxidant power’: the FRAP assay. Anal Biochem 239:70–76

  4. Decker EA, Warner K, Richards MP, Shahidi F (2005) Measuring antioxidant effectiveness in food. J Agric Food Chem 53:4303–4310

  5. Eissa HA, Fadel HHM, Ibrahim GE, Hassan IM, Elrashid AA (2006) Thiol containing compound as controlling agents of enzymatic browning in some apple products. Food Res Int 39:855–863

  6. Espin JC, Soler-Rivas C, Wichers HJ (2000) Characterization of the total free radical scavenger capacity of vegetable oils and oil fractions using 2, 2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical. J Agric Food Chem 48:648–656

  7. Fujiyama-Fujiwara Y, Umeda R, Igarashi O (1992) Effects of sesamin and curcumin on ∆5-desaturation and chain elongation of polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism in primary cultured rat hepatocytes. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol 38:353–363

  8. Ghafoorunissa, Hemalatha S, Rao VVM (2004) Sesame lignans enhance antioxidant activity of vitamin E in lipid peroxidation systems. Mol Cell Biochem 262:195–202

  9. Guan YG, Zhang BS, Yu SJ, Wang XR, Xu XB, Wang J, Han Z, Zhang PJ, Lin H (2011) Effects of ultrasound on a glycine-glucose model system—a means of promoting maillard reaction. Food Bioprocess Technol 4(8):1391–1398

  10. Guan YG, Qiang T, Xiong F, ShuJuan Y, Wu SW, Chen MS (2014) Preparation of antioxidants from sugar cane molasses. Food Chem 152:552–557

  11. Hidalgo ME, Fernandez E, Quilhot W, Lissi E (1994) Antioxidant activity of depsides and depsidones. Phytochemistry 37:1585–1587

  12. Hirose N, Inoue T, Nishihara K, Sugano M, Akimoto K, Shimizu S, Yamada H (1991) Inhibition of cholesterol absorption and synthesis in rats by sesamin. J Lipid Res 32:629–638

  13. Hirose N, Doi F, Ueki T, Akazawa K, Chijiiwa K, Sugano M, Akimato K, Shimizu S, Yamada H (1992) Suppressive effect of sesamin against 7, 12- dimethylbenz[a]anthracene induced rat mammary carcinogenesis. Anticancer Res 12:1259–1266

  14. Ito N, Fukushima S, Hagiwara A, Shibata M, Ogiso T (1983) Carciongenicity of butylated hydroxylanisole in F344 rats. J Natl Cancer Inst 70:343–352

  15. Ito N, Hirose M, Fukushima S, Tsuda H, Shirai T, Tatematsu M (1986) Studies on antioxidants: their carcinogenic and modifying effects on chemical carcinogenesis. Food Chem Toxicol 24:1071–1082

  16. Jayaprakasha GK, Tamil Selvi K, Sakariah KK (2003) Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of grape (Vitis vinifera) seed extracts. Food Res Int 36:117–122

  17. Kahkonen MP, Hopia AI, Vuorela HJ, Rauha JP, Pihlaja K, Kujala TS, Heinonen M (1999) Antioxidant activity of plant extracts containing phenolic compounds. J Agric Food Chem 47:3954–3962

  18. Kamal-Eldin A, Appelqvist LA, Yousif G (1994) Lignan analysis in seed oils from four Sesumum species: comparison of different chromatographic methods. J Am Oil Chem Soc 71:141–147

  19. Kovacic P, Jacintho JD (2001) Mechanisms of carcinogenesis: focus on oxidative stress and electron transfer. Curr Med Chem 8:773–796

  20. Kumagai Y, Lin LY, Schmitz DA, Cho AK (1991) Hydroxyl radical mediated demethylenation of (methlenedioxyl) phenyl compounds. Chem Res Toxicol 4:330–334

  21. Liyana-Pathirana CM, Shahidi F, Alasalvar C (2006) Antioxidant activity of cherry laurel fruit (Laurocerasus officinalis.) and its concentrated juice. Food Chem 99:121–128

  22. Loo AY, Jain K, Darah I (2007) Antioxidant and radical scavenging activities of the pyroligneous acid from mangrove plant Rhizophora apiculata. Food Chem 104:300–307

  23. Moore J, Hao Z, Zhou K, Luther M, Costa J, Yu L (2005) Carotenoid, tocopherol, phenolic acid, and antioxidant properties of Maryland-grown soft wheat. J Agric Food Chem 53:6649–6657

  24. Namiki M (1995) The chemistry and physiological functions of sesame. Food Rev Int 11:281–329

  25. Namiki M (2007) Nutraceutical functions of sesame: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 47:651–673

  26. Noguchi T, Ikeda K, Sakai Y, Yamamoto J, Seki J, Yamagata K, Hara H, Nara Y, Kakuta H, Yamori Y (2001) Effects of vitamin E and sesamin on hypertension and cerebral thrombogenesis in stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats. Hypertens Res 24:735–742

  27. Ogawa H, Sasagawa S, Murakami T, Yoshizumi H (1995) Sesame lignans modulate cholesterol metabolism in the stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rat. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 22:S310–S312

  28. Ozgen M, Reese RN, Tulio AZ Jr, Scheerens JC, Miller AR (2006) Modified 2,2-Azino-bis-3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid (ABTS) method to measure antioxidant capacity of selected small fruits and comparison to ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) and 2,2′-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) methods. J Agric Food Chem 54:1151–1157

  29. Prior RL, Cao G (1999) In vivo total antioxidant capacity: comparison of different analytical methods. Free Radic Biol Med 27:1173–1181

  30. Shahidi F, Naczk M (2004) Phenolics in food and nutraceuticals. CRC Press, Boca Raton

  31. Shahidi F, Liyana PCM, Wall DS (2006) Antioxidant activity of white and black sesame seeds and their hull fraction. Food Chem 99:478–483

  32. Soliman KF, Mazzio EA (1998) In vitro attenuation of nitric oxide production in C6 astrocyte cell culture by various dietary compounds. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 218:390–397

  33. Valko M, Rhodes CJ, Moncol J, Izakovic M, Mazur M (2006) Free radicals, metals and antioxidants in oxidative stress-induced cancer. Chem Biol Interact 160:1–40

  34. Wynn JP, Kendrick A, Ratledge C (1997) Sesamol as an inhibitor of growth and lipid metabolism in Mucor circinelloides via its action on malic enzyme. Lipids 32(6):605–610

  35. Yen GC, Hsieh CL (1998) Antioxidant activity of extracts from Du- Zhong (Eucommia ulinoides) towards various lipid peroxidation models in vitro. J Agric Food Chem 46(10):3952–3957

Download references


The authors wish to thank Director, CSIR-CFTRI, for his keen interest in the work. CMK is grateful for the fellowship awarded by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, India. This work was funded by the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India, New Delhi.

Author information

Correspondence to Sridevi Annapurna Singh.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mahendra Kumar, C., Singh, S.A. Bioactive lignans from sesame (Sesamum indicum L.): evaluation of their antioxidant and antibacterial effects for food applications. J Food Sci Technol 52, 2934–2941 (2015).

Download citation


  • Sesamol
  • Sesamin
  • Free radicals
  • Lignans
  • Antioxidant
  • Antimicrobial activity