3 Biotech

, 8:88 | Cite as

Bioactive properties of Chamaerops humilis L.: antioxidant and enzyme inhibiting activities of extracts from leaves, seeds, pulp and peel

  • Sandra Gonçalves
  • Joana Medronho
  • Elsa Moreira
  • Clara Grosso
  • Paula B. Andrade
  • Patrícia Valentão
  • Anabela Romano
Original Article


In this work we evaluated methanolic extracts from different parts (leaves, seeds, fruit peel and pulp) of Chamaerops humilis L. for antioxidant activity and the ability to inhibit enzymes linked with neurodegenerative diseases: acetylcholinesterase (AChE), butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) and tyrosinase (TYR). The total content of phenolics, flavonoids and condensed tannins was also determined. The antioxidant and inhibitory activities of the extracts varied significantly according to the tissue. Seed extracts showed the greatest ability to scavenge DPPH (IC50 = 81.28 µg mL−1) and ABTS (1440.42 µmolTE \( {{\text{g}}^{-1}}_{\text{extract}} \)) and to reduce iron (1142.46 µmolAAE \( {{\text{g}}^{-1}}_{\text{extract}} \)). Seed and peel extracts strongly inhibited AChE (IC50 = 660.16 and 653.68 µg mL−1, respectively) and BChE (IC50 = 304.86 and 701.54 µg mL−1, respectively). The strongest inhibition of TYR was achieved by the seed and pulp extracts (268.97 and 279.99 µg mL−1, respectively). The highest levels of phenolics and condensed tannins were found in the seed extract (1564.88 µmolGAE \( {{\text{g}}^{-1}}_{\text{extract}} \) and 170.00 µmolcE \( {{\text{g}}^{-1}}_{\text{extract}} \), respectively) whereas the leaf extract was the richest in flavonoids (139.88 µmolQE \( {{\text{g}}^{-1}}_{\text{extract}} \)). HPLC-DAD analysis indicated the presence of flavonoids and phenolic acids (hydroxycinnamic acids) in the leaf and pulp extracts. A high correlation was found between the total condensed tannins content and the antioxidant and enzyme inhibition activities, suggesting these compounds are responsible for the biological activity of the extracts. Overall, our results indicate that C. humilis extracts may provide a new and alternative source of agents for medical and industrial applications.


Acetylcholinesterase Butyrylcholinesterase Dwarf palm Tannins Tyrosinase 



Ascorbic acid equivalents


2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid)




Alzheimer’s disease


Acetylthiocholine iodide




Butyrylthiocholine chloride


Catechin equivalents






5,5′-dithiobis(2-nitrobenzoic acid)

F–C reagent

Folin–Ciocalteu reagent


Ferric reducing antioxidant power


Gallic acid equivalents


High-performance liquid chromatography-diode array detection


Parkinson’s disease


Quercetin equivalents


Trichloroacetic acid


Trolox equivalents


6-Hydroxy-2,5,7,8-tetramethylchroman-2-carboxylic acid





We would like to acknowledge financial support from the EU (FEDER funds through COMPETE) and from National Funds (FCT/MEC, Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia/Ministério da Educação e Ciência) through project UID/QUI/50006/2013, co-financed by the EU (FEDER under the Partnership Agreement PT2020). S. Gonçalves acknowledges a Grant from FCT (SFRH/BPD/84112/2012) and C. Grosso thanks FCT for the FCT Investigator award (IF/01332/2014).

Authors’ contribution

The work presented here was accomplished with the collaboration of all authors. The research topic and framework were defined by S. Gonçalves and A. Romano. E. Moreira and C. Grosso preformed the HPLC analysis under the supervision of P.B. Andrade and P. Valentão. S. Gonçalves and J. Medronho prepared the plant material and conducted the biological activity assays. S. Gonçalves analyzed the data and wrote the paper. All authors revised and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors declared no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Sciences and Technology, MeditBioUniversity of AlgarveFaroPortugal
  2. 2.REQUIMTE/LAQV, Laboratório de Farmacognosia, Departamento de Química, Faculdade de FarmáciaUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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