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Abstract

This paper reviews the literature on recent research on the chemical composition and pharmacological activities of saffron (Crocus sativus) and its active constituents, mainly as antitumoral, hypolipidemic and tissue oxygenation enhancement agents.
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... Commercial saffron is the dry stigma of C. sativus L. and is the most expensive spice and dye in the world [10]. It contains a variety of main active ingredients, including di-glycosidic esters (crocins) and a carotenoid derivative (crocetin), which are responsible for the coloring properties of saffron, Picrocrocin, which gives a bitter taste to saffron, and volatile oil Safranal, which provides a distinctive odor in saffron and other components consist of anthocyanins, flavonoids, vitamins, amino acids, and proteins [11][12][13][14]. ...
... In addition to its nutritional value and color, saffron is also an effective herbal medicine. It has been shown that saffron has several beneficial medicinal effects such as anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, radical inhibitor, learning and memory enhancement effects [11,15]. In traditional medicine, saffron is also used to treat depression, however, the exact mechanisms are unclear. ...
Article
Background Saffron is a traditional herbal medicine that has been used to treat various ailments such as depressive mood. However, the findings of several meta-analyses regarding anti-depressive properties of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) are controversial. The current umbrella meta-analysis was carried out to determine the magnitude and direction of saffron administration on depression. Methods Relevant studies were searched in international databases including PubMed, Scopus, EMBASE, Web of Science, and Cochrane Central Library up to June 2021. Meta-analysis studies investigating the effects of saffron on depression were considered to include in the study. Random-effects model was used to perform the meta-analysis. Additional analyses including subgroup and sensitivity analyses were carried out. Results Overall, 7 meta-analyses were included in the study. The results demonstrated that the consumption of saffron resulted in a significant reduction in BDI scores (ES: -3.87; 95% CI: -5.27, -2.46). However, saffron did not change the HAMD scores (ES: -2.10; 95% CI: -5.05, 0.86, p = 0.164) and mixed scores (HAM-D/BDI/DASS) (ES: 0.02; 95% CI: -0.39, 0.43,p= 0.941). Conclusion Present umbrella meta-analysis demonstrated that saffron intake might contribute to alleviation of depression disorder, however, it cannot be considered as a single therapeutic approach to treat depression.
... The spice obtained from the dried red stigmas of the saffron flower is commonly used in the food industry, in traditional medicine, and daily nutrition to prevent the chronic diseases or cancer (Cardone et al. 2019). Saffron contains more than 150 volatile ingredients known for their aroma, colour, taste, and odour effects, and crocin, crocetin, picrocrocin, and safranal are well-known constituents of saffron (Rios et al. 1996;Melnyk et al. 2010;Asil 2018;Asil and Ayanoglu 2018;Rikabad et al. 2019;El Caid et al. 2020). ...
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A two-year study was conducted to determine the efficacy of weed control techniques on the stigma quality of saffron and the diversity of the microbial population in the soil from 2019 to 2021. Several weed control methods are applied to reduce weed competition in saffron (Crocus sativus L.) fields. The impact of fourteen different weed control treatments on the pharmacological components was determined by the GC-MS/MS and GC-MS FID analyses. The highest safranal content in the stigma was recorded from metribuzin treatment with 8.00 mg g⁻¹, and the lowest was in the pendimethalin + tepraloxydim treatment with 1.26 mg g⁻¹. The density of the total plant growth promoting bacterial population and the species were defined from the soil around the saffron corms grown in the plots that were applied to the soil treatments. The bacterial species, isolated from the soil samples, were identified using MALDI-TOF analysis. A total of 117 bacterial isolates were obtained from the samples at the root regions of saffron corms The bacterial richness was the highest in the soil sample taken from benfluralin applied with 13 isolates, textile mulch and metribuzin treatments with 12 isolates and sawdust (pine) + benfluralin treatment with 11 isolates. The results showed that the soil treatments used for weed control significantly affected the quality of the saffron stigma, number and population diversities of plant growth promoting endophytic/epiphytic bacteria in the soil and on the corm.
... Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Western countries. An evolving sequence causes an adenoma to develop into cancer over the course of around 10 years [1,2] . A malignant transformation results from several steps that involve mutations at the germinal and somatic levels. ...
Article
Despite the increasing number of drugs and treatments available for cancer patients, the effect of cancer on the quality of life of patients and their life expectancy is significant. Moreover, many new therapeutic options have shown to have adverse effects without improving outcomes. These days, natural plants and chemopreventive drugs are commonly used. Chemoprevention is a new form of therapy that targets specific premalignant-malignant transformations. Plant-derived substances, such as polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids, alkaloids, etc., have a range of biological effects. Despite extensive studies on the anti-inflammatory effect of saffron carotenoids, they are also bioactive in some other ways, including the inhibition of tumor growth and the induction of cell death. In addition to interfering with a wide array of signaling molecules, this substance has pleiotropic effects: it inhibits pro-inflammatory molecules, transcription factors, enzymes, protein kinases, protein transport proteins, proteins that are crucial for cell survival, growth factors, proteins that regulate the cell cycle, and chemokines. Saffron has high oral bioavailability and is, therefore, suitable for treating gastrointestinal diseases. This antioxidant and anti-proliferative property of saffron makes it a promising chemopreventive agent for colorectal cancer. In contrast with in vitro studies devoted to saffron and in vivo studies on animal models, saffron has rarely been assessed in clinical studies dealing with gastrointestinal oncology. However, several clinical trials are in progress in this domain, although saffron has no approved medical indication as of yet.
... In the fresh saffron stigmas, safranal levels are very low [41], and not detected in the stigma-like structures generated in vitro [44]. However, their levels were considerably increased (16-41 mg/g) after the processing of the spice due to the thermal degradation of picrocrocin [45]. Safranal was detected in all the transgenic fruits, together with a safranal-related compound (probably derived from the cleavage of lutein). ...
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Crocins and picrocrocin are high-value hydrophilic pigments produced in saffron and used commercially in the food and pharmaceutical industries. These apocarotenoids are derived from the oxidative cleavage of zeaxanthin by specific carotenoid cleavage dioxygenases. The pathway for crocins and picrocrocin biosynthesis was introduced into tomato using fruit specific and constitutive promoters and resulted in 14.48 mg/g of crocins and 2.92 mg/g of picrocrocin in the tomato DW, without compromising plant growth. The strategy involved expression of CsCCD2L to produce crocetin dialdehyde and 2,6,6-trimethyl-4-hydroxy-1-carboxaldehyde-1-cyclohexene, and of glycosyltransferases UGT709G1 and CsUGT2 for picrocrocin and crocins production, respectively. Metabolic analyses of the engineered fruits revealed picrocrocin and crocetin-(β-D-gentiobiosyl)-(β-D-glucosyl)-ester, as the predominant crocin molecule, as well as safranal, at the expense of the usual tomato carotenoids. The results showed the highest crocins content ever obtained by metabolic engineering in heterologous systems. In addition, the engineered tomatoes showed higher antioxidant capacity and were able to protect against neurological disorders in a Caenorhabditis elegans model of Alzheimer's disease model. Therefore, these new developed tomatoes could be exploited as a new platform to produce economically competitive saffron apocarotenoids with health-promoting properties.
... Saffron, or Crocus sativus L., is a medicinal herb of the Iridaceae family (Rios et al., 1996) with anti-inflammatory properties that promote cardioprotective effects (Poma et al., 2012). Suppression of some proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α and IL-1β may explain saffron's anti-inflammatory properties (Cai et al., 2009). ...
Article
Objective We sought to determine the independent and combined effects of saffron and resistance training on markers of inflammation and cardiovascular risk factors in elderly hypertensive patients. Methods Hypertensive older men were randomly assigned to a control group (C) or one of three experimental groups [saffron consumption (S), resistance training (R), and resistance training + saffron (RS)] for 12 weeks. Inflammatory markers and lipid profiles were measured at baseline and following the 12-week intervention period. Patients in S and RS received one tablet containing 200 mg of saffron daily. Primary outcomes were analyzed using univariate analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). Results The RS group had significantly greater reductions in leptin, resistin, MCP-1, and IL-6 as compared with the C, S, and R groups (ps < 0.05). In addition, the RS, S, and R groups had significantly greater reductions in TC and greater increases in HDL-c as compared with the C group (ps < 0.05), but there were no differences between the RS, S, and R groups. Finally, there were no differences between groups for TNF-α, homocysteine, and hs-CRP (ps > 0.05). Conclusion Combining Saffron and resistance training can reduce inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk factors associated with increased risk for hypertension in older men with hypertension.
... Saffron is the spice obtained from the stigmas of Crocus sativus L., a perennial stemless herb of the Iridaceae family, widely cultivated in Iran and other countries, including India and Greece [1], but also Spain [2] and Italy [3] where its cultivation has longstanding traditions and yields high-quality productions. ...
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The quality and economic value of saffron, one of the most counterfeited spices, are based on three key substances that are relatively easy to measure: crocines (colour); picrocrocines (bitter); safranal (odour impact). Despite being well-known, as their concentration is correlated to sensory intensity, a detailed sensory evaluation, performed by a trained panel, supported by advanced analytical approaches, may better show the relationships between saffron composition and sensory perception. Three saffron samples of different Italian origins (Sardinia and Tuscany) were evaluated by a trained sensory panel and their chemical composition was determined by HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) and spectrophotometry. Safranal concentration and the perceived odour intensity were positively correlated while relationships between picrocrocine and bitter perception were more complex to detect. By correlating (Multiple Factor Analysis) saffron sensorial and chemical profiles, this work aims at improving saffron characterisation while providing better information on the quality of this valuable spice.
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Fecal samples were collected from horses with 0-, 60- and 120-mL aqueous extract of the Cascalote fruit for 30 days as Fecal 0, Fecal 60 and Fecal 120, respectively. During incubation, 0, 0.6, 1.2- and 1.8-mL CC extract was added to each fecal type. Feces from the horse given no CC extract produced the lowest (P =0.0014) methane while the fecal from horses given oral CC produced more methane with Fecal 120 producing the highest. It was also observed that all CC dose linearly (P =0.0457) produced more methane than the control. Furthermore, Fecal 0 was more efficient and produced less methane for every unit of ME, OM, and SCFA while Fecal 60 was the least efficient. Production of H2S showed that feces of equine orally give 60 mL/day CC produced the highest while Fecal 0 and Fecal 120 were similar. Fecal type x dose showed that 0 mL/g DM produced the highest H2S while 1.8 mL/g DM produced the lowest. Thus, based on gas production, H2S, CO and CH4, feeding horses for with 60 mL/day of CC with 0 or 0.6 mL/g DM CC extract is recommended for the sustainable mitigation of greenhouse gases emission in horses.
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As a powerful antioxidant compound, crocin can partially protect against renal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injuries. The encapsulation of components in niosomes (non-ionic surfactant-based vesicle) as nano-sized carrier systems has been proposed as they improve the solubility, stability, and bioavailability of drugs. Herein, the encapsulation of crocin in nano-niosomes and the effects of crocin-loaded nano-niosomes on renal ischemia/reperfusion-induced damages were evaluated. Nano-niosomes containing crocin were formulated by a modified heating method and were characterized for their physicochemical characteristics. Ischemia was induced by clamping the renal artery for 30 min followed by 1 or 24 h of reperfusion. Rats received an intra-arterial injection of nano-niosome-loaded crocin at the outset of reperfusion. Blood samples were taken after reperfusion to measure urea, creatinine (Cr), malondialdehyde (MDA), and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity. The right kidney was removed for histological examination. The results showed that crocin-contain nano-niosomes have appropriate size and morphology, acceptable encapsulation efficiency, and a proper release pattern of crocin. I/R enhanced creatinine (Cr), urea, and malondialdehyde (MDA) serum levels and reduced SOD activity and histological damages in the renal tissue.
Chapter
Spices are part of the regular diet in most countries. Apart from serving a crucial role in culinary, spices are now revealing important properties in preventing or combating different types of ailments. It is high time that more research on the daily consumption of spices as disease-targeted functional food be encouraged throughout the world. In this chapter the functional and therapeutic applications of 10 general and rare spices—anise, asafetida, bishop’s weed, clove, cumin, fennel, saffron, star anise, sweet flag, and vanilla—are discussed in brief.
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Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) is renowned for the active compounds contained in its stigmas, which are used in traditional medicine and as a spice. However, although the stigmas are well above the average yield, the lateral buds of saffron are usually discarded in saffron culturing. In order to expand saffron resource utilization, this study assessed the anti-fungal activities of saffron lateral bud ethanol extracts on six common food-borne pathogenic fungi, as well as investigated the stability of these activities under various heat and pH conditions. Furthermore, the active anti-fungal components of ethyl acetate phase were preliminarily separated by silica gel column chromatography technology and its major chemical constituents were investigated by HPLC-MS/MS. Results revealed that the ethyl acetate phase of saffron lateral bud ethanol extracts elicited a remarkable anti-fungal effect against the tested fungi, especially Aspergillus niger (83.47 %) and Trichoderma viride (79.93 %). Moreover, these inhibitory effects were stable in neutral and acidic pH ranges at temperatures < 100 °C. The ethyl acetate phase can further be separated into eight fractions by silica gel column chromatography, of which fraction 6 (F6) had the strongest anti-fungal effect by anti-fungal activity evaluation in vitro. HPLC-MS/MS analysis showed that the major compounds of F6 mostly belonged to polyphenols. To summarize, these findings demonstrated that saffron lateral buds are a potentially efficient and affordable source of natural preservatives for use in food.
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Chloroform and methanol extracts of various herbs and spices as well as food additives were screened for mutagenicity using the Salmonella/microsome assay of Ames and the Salmonella typhimurium strains TA100 and TA98. The results of this general screening, however, did not provide sufficient information to fully assess the mutagenic potential of certain herbs and spices since the assay of their respective extracts was accompanied by a growth inhibition of the bacterial tester strain. These findings were attributed to the effects of toxic compounds that were presumably contained within the complex mixtures that comprise both herbs and spices. An apparent reduction in the effects of toxicity was observed when separation methods were used as a means to obtain fewer compounds in each of the samples assayed for mutagenicity.
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Different methods for the separation of crocetin glycosyl esters from the ethanolic extract of saffron by high-performance liquid chromatography are discussed. After a clean-up by gel filtrationl on Sephadex G-50, best results were obtained with LiChrosorb SI 60 as stationary phase and ethyl acetate-isopropanol-water (56:34:10) as mobile phase.
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Bulbs of Crocus sativus, variety Cartwrightianus contain a protein factor with aggregating properties on human platelets. This factor was purified by different chromatographic techniques and shows a molecular weight of 42 000, as it was estimated by Sephadex G-75 column chromatography and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) polyacrylamide slab gel electrophoresis.
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The binding of the carotenoid crocetin to human and bovine plasma albumin was studied using absorption and fluorescence techniques. Shifts in the absorption spectrum of crocetin, quenching of the albumin fluorescence, and competitive binding studies all provided information about the binding of crocetin to albumin. These studies suggest that crocetin binds to plasma albumin by occupying the free fatty acid binding sites. The binding constants for the first two binding sites are in the 105−107 M-1 range and are an order of magnitude less than the values reported for other conjugated polyene fatty acids. The importance of this strong plasma albumin binding to the pharmacology of crocetin is discussed.
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