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Radical Scavenging Activity of Crocus sativus L. Extract and its Bioactive Constituents

Radical scavenging activity is involved in aging processes, antiinflammatory, anticancer and wound healing activity. Hence, in the present study the DPPH radical scavenging activity of a natural product that possesses biological properties, an extract of Crocus sativus L. (saffron), grown in Crocos, Kozani (Greece), and some of its bioactive constituents (crocin, safranal) was studied.It was shown that a methanol extract of Crocus sativus exhibited high antioxidant activity, although it contains several active and inactive constituents. In trying to approximate a structure-activity relationship, two bioactive constituents of saffron extract were tested, namely crocin and safranal. Crocin showed high radical scavenging activity (50% and 65% for 500 and 1000 ppm solution in methanol, respectively), followed by safranal (34% for 500 ppm solution). All the tested samples showed high radical scavenging activity, probably due to the ability to donate a hydrogen atom to the DPPH radical.Thus, saffron grown in Greece can be used promisingly in functional foods, drinks with antioxidant activity in pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations for their antioxidant activity and probably for their antiaging activity. Saffron can also be used internally in the form of powder or other pharmacotechnical formulae as a food supplement with antioxidant properties.