Passiflora's possible clinical exploitations

Author: Davide DAnna
Date: 24/09/2014


New studies on Passiflora are showing good results in a wide range of therapeutic fields, opening the scientific community to new interesting treatment.

The potential use as functional beverages of wild passiflora’s infusions.

A new study has evaluated the contents of phenolic compounds in association with the sensory properties of passiflora.

It is known that flavonoid phenols are mainly responsible for the bitter taste and the astringency in beverages such as tea, cider and red wine.
In this research total flavonoids, phenolics and condensed tannins were investigated using infusion and hydroalcoholic extracts.

P.Nitida has shown the best results in most of tests, stooding out among four wild species, three hybrid passionfruit varieties and commercial green tea, which were tested in laboratory (antioxidant activity with DPPH and FRAP arrays) and on regular consumers of tea.

One serving(200ml) of P. Nitida infusion has 43.60±0.50mg of total phenolics, a level comparable with 40 ml of Moscatel wine: this supports the potential use as non-alcoholic functional beverage.
Infusion of P. Nitida has also higher contents of condensed tannins than green tea, black tea and white tea.

The antioxidant capacity of passiflora infusions is even higher than that of berries: P. nitida is about 17-fold the antioxidant activity of strawberries, a well-known source of phenolic compounds.

From a chemical point of view P. nitida presents the better characteristics but only one group of consumers has chosen it during the sensory profile. Further work will involve the acceptance which is by now equal to iced green tea.

Without doubt these drinks have sensory potential to be consumed as a functional beverage like green tea.

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the potential uso of passiflora as functional beverage,(4 Aug 2014.).

A valuable alternative to benzodiazepine for short-term treatment of insomnia.

Unsatisfactory sleep quantity, which came up as the difficulty in falling asleep or early morning awakening is the main evidence of primary insomnia.

It chronically affects 10-15% of adults leading to tiredness, daytime somnolence, lack of concentration, poor performance and increased irritability. Poor life quality and greater risk of accident at work are the major consequence of primary insomnia.

For the first time a study has compared benzodiazepine-like zolpidem with NSF-3: an herbal medicine which contains Valeriana officinalis, Passiflora incarnata and Humulus lupulus.
Through a randomized controlled trial, NSF-3 has been proved to be an acceptable alternative to zolpidem in the short-term treatment of primary insomnia.

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Bioactive compounds in passion flower include alkaloids, phenols, cyanogenic compounds and glycosyl flavonoids.

Passiflora: a review update

It is very likely that binding to the GABA-site of the GABAa receptor is one of the clinically relevant modes of action of Passiflora incarnata.

Efficacy and safety of a polyherbal sedative-hypnotic formulation NSF-3 in primary insomnia in comparison to zolpidem: A randomized controlled trial

Modulation of the g-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) System by Passiflora incarnata L.

Will passiflora stop breast cancer?

Nowadays cancer is one of the major diseases leading to death and the best treatment involves chemotherapy or radiotherapy, without being always successful.
The aim of chemotherapy is to induce apoptosis in cancer cells.
The mechanism of apoptosis is involved in an energy-dependent cascade of molecular events, among all of them the over-expression of intracellular reactive oxygen species(ROS) is a main cause of DNA and protein damage.

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Chimaphilin, 2,7-dimethyl-1,4-naphthoquinone, was isolated from pyrola [Passiflora incarnata Fisch.]. This cheap plant is commonly used in China because of slowing down ageing and boosting immunity as well as sedatives or analgesics effects.

Chimaphilin not only has the antifungal activities toward S. cerevisiae, M. globosa and M. restricta, but also has antioxidant activities tested through DPPH assay.

Proliferative activity of MCF-7 cells is inhibited by Chimaphilin
The MTT assay showed that chimaphilin can inhibit the growth of MCF-7 cells in a dose-dependent manner.

Apoptosis is induced by chimaphilin in MCF-7 cells.

Inverted fluorescence microscope can visualize apoptotic cells.
In the untreated cells there were multiple nuclei while in the MSF-7 cells, exposed to 20 µM chimophilin for 24h, chromatin condensation has been observed thanks to brighter fluorescence intensity.

Furthermore, one of the hallmarks of apoptotic cell is the degradation of nuclear DNA into nucleosomal units.
In MCF-7 cells treated with chimaphilin, 40µM for 24 h, there was generation of DNA fragments which did not appear in cells untreated.

All these results show that chimophilin can induce apoptosis in MCF-7 cells.

Chimaphilin, a 1,4-naphthoquinine derivate, can induce high Bad/Bcl-2 ratio which lead to mitochondrial disruption.
When Bad/Bcl-2 increase, the mitochondrial membrane potential reduces and outer membrane is easily permebilized.
Then cytochrome c is released into the cytoplasm matrix and it binds Apaf-1 and procaspase-9.
Procaspase-9 is cleaved and activates procaspase-3, which cut PARP, a poly ADP-ribose synthetase involved in repair of single-strand DNA nicks.

In conclusion the main cause of chimaphilin-induced apoptosis in MCF-7 breast cancer cells is ROS generation, which contribute to the release of cytochrome c and so apoptosis.

Chimaphilin induces apoptosis in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells through a ROS-mediated mitochondrial pathway. (2014)

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