Plant Foods for Human Nutrition

, Volume 74, Issue 2, pp 164–170 | Cite as

Capsaicin in Hot Chili Peppers: In Vitro Evaluation of Its Antiradical, Antiproliferative and Apoptotic Activities

  • Margherita Lavorgna
  • Elena Orlo
  • Roberta Nugnes
  • Concetta Piscitelli
  • Chiara Russo
  • Marina IsidoriEmail author
Original Paper


Capsaicin is a spicy capsaicinoid, produced as secondary metabolite by Capsicum fruits. This alkaloid has been used for years in folk medicine for its analgesic and antinflammatory properties although most data is referred to the raw fruit. In this study, the antiradical activity of the pure capsaicin has been studied using 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS) assays as well as its antiproliferative activity, using MTT assay, against two human tumour cell lines, the colorectal Caco-2 and the oesophageal OE19 cells. Furthermore, the antiproliferative activity observed on tumoral cells was compared with that of the human normal-like fibroblast cell line TelCOFS02MA. In addition, the apoptotic activity was evaluated using TUNEL assay. A higher radical scavenging activity was observed against ABTS radical cation than DPPH. Capsaicin showed also a higher cytotoxicity against cancer cells than normal-like cells with Selectivity index values greater than 2 at 72 h. Capsaicin induced apoptosis especially in OE19 cell line.


Capsicum annuum Antiradical activity Cytotoxicity Selectivity index Tumor cells Normal-like cells 



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


American type culture collection


DNA Fragmentation index


Dulbecco’s modified eagle medium




Median effective concentration


Fetal bovine serum


4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazineethanesulfonic acid


Median inhibition concentration


Minimum essential medium amino acids solution


3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide


Negative control


Nuclear factor kappa B


Roswell park memorial institute 1640 medium


Selectivity index


Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity


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


Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling



This work has been supported by the University of Campania ‘Luigi Vanvitelli’.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors Margherita Lavorgna, Elena Orlo, Roberta Nugnes, Concetta Piscitelli, Chiara Russo, Marina Isidori declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11130_2019_722_MOESM1_ESM.docx (116 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 115 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margherita Lavorgna
    • 1
  • Elena Orlo
    • 1
  • Roberta Nugnes
    • 1
  • Concetta Piscitelli
    • 1
  • Chiara Russo
    • 1
  • Marina Isidori
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Ambientali, Biologiche e FarmaceuticheUniversità della Campania “L. Vanvitelli”CasertaItaly

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