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Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action



Goji berries (Lycium fruits) are usually found in Asia, particularly in northwest regions of China. Traditionally, dried goji berries are cooked before they are consumed. They are commonly used in Chinese soups and as herbal tea. Moreover, goji berries are used for the production of tincture, wine, and juice. Goji berries are high antioxidant potential fruits which alleviate oxidative stress to confer many health protective benefits such as preventing free radicals from damaging DNA, lipids, and proteins. Therefore, the aim of the review was to focus on the bioactive compounds and pharmacological properties of goji berries including their molecular mechanisms of action. The health benefits of goji berries include enhancing hemopoiesis, antiradiation, antiaging, anticancer, improvement of immunity, and antioxidation. There is a better protection through synergistic and additive effects in fruits and herbal products from a complex mixture of phytochemicals when compared to one single phytochemical.
Review Article
Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An
Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action
Zheng Feei Ma ,
Hongxia Zhang,
Sue Siang Teh,
Chee Woon Wang,
Yutong Zhang ,
Frank Hayford,
Liuyi Wang,
Tong Ma,
Zihan Dong,
Yan Zhang,
and Yifan Zhu
Department of Health and Environmental Sciences, Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou 215123, China
School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kota Bharu, 15200 Kelantan, Malaysia
Department of Food Science, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Department of Food Science, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, Kuala Lumpur 53300, Malaysia
Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, MAHSA University, Bandar Saujana Putra, Jenjarom, 42610 Selangor, Malaysia
Jinzhou Medical University, Jinzhou 121000, China
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences,
University of Ghana, P. O. Box KB143, Korle-Bu, Accra, Ghana
Department of Integrative Medicine and Neurobiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Shanghai Medical College, Institutes of
Integrative Medicine of Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China
Correspondence should be addressed to Zheng Feei Ma;
and Yutong Zhang;
Received 30 June 2018; Revised 1 October 2018; Accepted 17 December 2018; Published 9 January 2019
Guest Editor: Germán Gil
Copyright © 2019 Zheng Feei Ma et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Goji berries (Lycium fruits) are usually found in Asia, particularly in northwest regions of China. Traditionally, dried goji berries
are cooked before they are consumed. They are commonly used in Chinese soups and as herbal tea. Moreover, goji berries are used
for the production of tincture, wine, and juice. Goji berries are high antioxidant potential fruits which alleviate oxidative stress to
confer many health protective benets such as preventing free radicals from damaging DNA, lipids, and proteins. Therefore, the
aim of the review was to focus on the bioactive compounds and pharmacological properties of goji berries including their
molecular mechanisms of action. The health benets of goji berries include enhancing hemopoiesis, antiradiation, antiaging,
anticancer, improvement of immunity, and antioxidation. There is a better protection through synergistic and additive eects in
fruits and herbal products from a complex mixture of phytochemicals when compared to one single phytochemical.
1. Introduction
Goji berries (Lycium fruits) are obtained from two closely
related plants, Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum. They
are usually found in Asia, particularly in northwest regions of
China. Lycium belongs to the Solanaceae family that yields
numerous foods, including some fruits that are yellow to
red, ranging from potatoes and tomatoes to eggplants. Both
of these Lycium species are generally marketed as goji berry
as well as wolfberry. It is a 1-2 cm long berry, bright
orangered ellipsoid colour with a sweet and tangy avor
[1]. After harvesting in late summerearly autumn, it is
sun-dried as a dried fruit.
Traditionally, dried goji berries are cooked before they
are consumed. They are commonly used in Chinese soups
and as herbal tea. Moreover, goji berries are used for the
production of tincture, wine, and juice [2]. Many pharmaco-
logical functions related to the eyes, kidney, and liver partic-
ularly have been promoted by the consumption of goji berry
in populations [3]. Goji berries are often incorporated into
Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2019, Article ID 2437397, 9 pages
herb formulas. The dose of goji berries is in the range of
6-18 g. However, if goji berries are used as a single herb rem-
edy, this dose may be insucient. This is because the other
herbs in the specic formulation may contain same compo-
nents as goji berries such as polysaccharides and carotenoids.
Goji berries could be used as a major component in a formu-
lation or as a single herd. One of the recommended therapies
in the treatment of atrophic gastritis is to consume twice daily
with 10 g Lycium fruits each time. Besides that, 15 g of goji
berries per day is considered benecial to supply adequate
zeaxanthin which is estimat ed at 3 mg/day as a dietary supple-
ment for eye health [4]. A 20 g Lycium fruit in a simple tea is
able to improve decreased visual perception [5]. Hence, the
dosage range of goji berry alters to 15-30 grams (2- to 5-fold
increases) when it is the main herd apart from that in the com-
plex formula where the dosage range is around 6-18 g [4].
Goji berries are gradually being regarded as a functional
food in many Asian countries as well as throughout Europe
[3]. They also have been marketed as a health food in the
western countries [6]. Goji berries recently gained a growing
popularity as a superfruitin North America and European
countries because of their potential health-promoting
properties. For example, goji berries have been used to
increase longevity and for the benets to liver, kidney, and
vision since ancient times [2]. Due to the rich medical
properties and chemical composition, goji berry has been
consumed as an important food of a health-promoting diet
for hundreds of years.
2. Bioactive Compounds of Goji Berries
There are many bioactive compounds distinguished by high
antioxidant potential in goji berries. The nutrients in goji
berries are included 46% of carbohydrate, 16% of dietary
ber, 13% of protein, and 1.5% of fat. Thus, goji berries can
be an excellent source of macronutrients. Micronutrients
which included minerals and vitamins can be found in goji
berries as well. There are studies that reported the presence
of riboavin, thiamine, nicotinic acid, and minerals such as
copper, manganese, magnesium, and selenium in goji berries
[7]. The bioactive compounds responsible for health benets
have been evaluated based on the macronutrients and micro-
nutrients of goji berries. The high biological activity compo-
nents in goji berries are polysaccharides, carotenoids, and
phenolics [8]. These functional components are related with
the health-promoting properties of goji berries.
The most important group of compounds present in goji
berries is polysaccharides. Polysaccharides comprise 58% of
dried fruits, and they are found in the water-soluble form of
highly branched L. barbarum polysaccharides [1]. These six
kinds of monosaccharides (i.e., arabinose, galactose, glucose,
rhamnose, mannose, xylose, and galacturonic acid) are found
in goji berries [5].
A group of carotenoids are the colour components of
Lycium fruit. Carotenoids are the second highly signicant
group of biologically active compounds with health benet
properties present in goji berry. The total carotenoid content
of dierent goji berries ranged from 0.03 to 0.5% of dried
fruits. Being responsible for the characteristic bright and
vivid orange to red colouration, the lipid soluble carotenoids
occur at extremely high levels in goji berries [2]. One of the
most common carotenoids found in goji berries is zeaxanthin
in the form of dipalmitin zeaxanthin. In ripening goji berries,
the content of zeaxanthin can reach around 77.5% of
total carotenoids. Zeaxanthin palmitate (phasalien) contains
3156% of the total carotenoids. As for now, the best natural
source of dipalmitin zeaxanthin is goji berries. The fractions
of beta-carotene (35.9 μg/g), cryptoxanthin, and neoxanthin
(72.1 μg/g) are also detected in goji berry extracts [8].
Phenolic acids and avonoids are examples of the pheno-
lic compounds found in goji berries. Some phenolic com-
pounds in goji berries are caeic acid (3.73 μg/g),
caeoylquinic acid (0.34 μg/g), chlorogenic acid (12.4 μg/g),
p-coumaric acid (6.06 μg/g), quercetin-diglucoside
(66.0 μg/g), kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside (11.3 μg/g), and rutin
(42.0 μg/g) [8]. These phenolic compounds have a very high
antioxidant capacity [8]. Table 1 summarises some chemical
compounds found in goji berries [9].
3. Pharmacological Properties of Goji Berries
Goji berries have become popular over the years due to its
public acceptance as a superfoodwith highly advantageous
antioxidant and nutritive properties. A superfood is a
nutrient-richfood considered to be especially benecial
for health or well-being. The carotenoid content of goji
berries had been drawn a lot of attention due to its benecial
eects including antioxidant property on vision, retinopathy,
and macular degeneration.
In very recent years, interest of consumers about the
health benets of dierent berry-type fruits, their resultant
juices, and their capsules has quickly increased [10]. Berry
fruits are rich in antioxidant phytochemicals [11, 12], and
these antioxidants are capable of performing a number of
functions. The present interest about the properties of several
kinds of berries is also shown by the numerous scientic arti-
cles published in journals in the last few years. The biennial
International Berry Health Benets Symposium started in
2005 and in their latest research also focused on berry con-
sumption in relation to human health as a key component
of their symposium [13, 14]. The most extensively consumed
Table 1: Some chemical compounds of goji berries.
Moisture (%) 10.3
Crude protein (%) 8.9
Crude oil (%) 4.1
Fiber (%) 7.3
Total phenol (mg GAE/100 mL) 3.4
Antioxidant activity (%) 20.8
Myristic acid (%) 0.1
Stearic acid (%) 2.9
Palmitic acid (%) 8.2
Arachidic acid (%) 1.8
Oleic acid (%) 21.7
2 Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
berry-type products are derived from goji (Lycium
barbarum), chia (Salvia hispanica), açaí (Euterpe oleracea
Martius), jujuba (Ziziphus jujuba), pomegranate (Punica
granatum), and mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) [10].
The dietary intake of berry fruits has been shown to have a
positive impact on human health, performance, and dis-
ease [1524]. All these fruits support the immune system
and are rich in nutrients. Overall, they have a signicant
concentration of phytosterols, monounsaturated fats, anti-
oxidants, essential amino acids, trace minerals, dietary
ber, and fat- and water-soluble vitamins [25].
Goji berry polysaccharides, for instance, are a
well-known traditional Chinese medicine and tonic food
for many years. In connection with it health benets, Lycium
barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs) are one of the most
valuable functional components [5, 26]. In recent years, L.
barbarum is being used not only in China but also worldwide
as a health dietary supplement in several forms including
juice and tea [27]. Consuming products made from L.
barbarum might help to decrease blood lipid concentration,
promote fertility, and improve immunity [17, 19, 2729].
3.1. Vision-Protective Eect. The mixture of highly branched
polysaccharides and proteoglycans in LBPs has been
reported to exert ocular neuroprotective eects [30, 31]. Goji
berries, which contain a specic prole of carotenoid species
[2, 32], have high carotenoid metabolites, with zeaxanthin
making up almost 60% of the total carotenoids in the fruit
[33]. Carotenoids are main natural pigments accountable
for the yellow, red, and orange colours of many types of fruits
and vegetables [34]. They also have many biological actions
including the pro-vitamin As antioxidant activity.
LBPs are the active components which may improve
visual function. Chu et al. [28] reported an animal study
investigating the eects of LBPs (1 mg/kg) on localised
changes of ratsretinal function in a partial optic nerve tran-
section (PONT) model. The multifocal electroretinograms
(mfERG) were obtained from Sprague-Dawley rats. One
week later, a substantial decrease of major positive compo-
nent (P1) and photopic negative response (PhNR) ampli-
tudes of mfERG were detected in all retinal regions.
Feeding with LBPs prior to PONT preserved the functions
of retina. All mfERG responses were reported to be within
the normal range in the superior retina, and most of the infe-
rior retinal responses were considerably increased at week 4.
The retina ventral part had secondary degeneration which
aected the ganglion cell layer and outer retina. LBPs caused
alterations to the functional reduction caused by PONT by
regulating the signal from the outer retina. Zhu et al. reported
that LBPs inhibited the N-methyl-N-nitrosourea-induced rat
photoreceptor cell apoptosis [35]. In addition, LBPs also pro-
tected the retinal structure by regulating the expressions of
caspase and PARP [35].
The protective characteristics of goji berry extracts on
retina cells have been shown in the early stage of the retina
degeneration in both human and animal studies [1].
Consumption of dietary L. barbarum has been shown to be
retinoprotective. A study by Yu et al. in 2013 showed that
1% (kcal) wolfberry upregulated carotenoid metabolic genes
of zeaxanthin and luteolin and also improved the biogenesis
of mitochondria in the retina of db/db diabetic mice [36]. It
has been suggested that inhibited expression of these zeaxan-
thin and luteolin-metabolizing genes can cause hyperglycae-
mia, which increases the risk of retinopathy [1].
Using Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rats as a
hereditary retinal dystrophy model, Ni et al. examined
the potential neuroprotective eects of aqueous extract of
dried L. barbarum [37]. The results indicated that the
aqueous extract of dried L. barbarum might possess a neu-
roprotective activity on the retinal tissue of RCS rats at the
initial stage by hindering apoptosis involving caspase-2
protein and protecting photoreceptors [37]. Prior studies
had established that apoptosis is the dominant mechanism
of photoreceptor degeneration in RCS rats [38, 39]. The
contribution of polysaccharide fractions of L. barbarum
to the prevention of glaucoma was further demonstrated
on the retinal ganglion cells (RGC) in rats with high intra-
ocular pressure (IOP), indicating the neuroprotective eect
of L. barbarum [40]. Further research work by Tang et al.
[41] and Hu et al. [42] also established the protective
eect of L. barbarum on diabetic retinal injury.
Goji berries have also been shown to exhibit macular
benets in a randomized controlled study of healthy elderly
participants [43]. It was observed that after 90 days of daily
dietary supplementation with 13.7 g lacto-wolfberry (LWB)
(a proprietary milk-based formulation of goji berry) elevated
plasma antioxidant and zeaxanthin levels group, by 26% and
57%, respectively, in supplemented subjects [43]. It is also
suggested that taurine, a nonessential free amino acid in goji
extracts, may hinder the diabetic retinopathy progress
through elevated cAMP levels and enhanced PPAR-γactivity
in retinal cells [44]. Taurine is found abundantly in goji. Goji
powder extracted with methanol contains 10 7±0 1% tau-
rine (w/w). Elevated cAMP levels have been known as pro-
tective against the dysfunction of the endothelial barrier
[45, 46]. Results from Pavan et al. [47] strongly suggested
that in high glucose-treated cells, elevated cAMP concentra-
tions mediate the impairment of the epithelial barrier and
goji berries could be used to achieve their reversal. The pro-
tective property of L. barbarum extract was also conrmed
by Shen et al. using human retina neuron cells [48].
3.2. Lipid-Lowering Eect. The lipid-lowering health benet
of LBP and its puried constituents have been demonstrated
in animals with limited clinical studies in humans. Besides
having antioxidant activity in vitro [8, 49, 50] and in vivo
[49, 51], they have also shown to have the ability to lower
the blood lipid concentrations of alloxan-induced diabetic
rabbits [7] and mice fed by high-fat diet (HFD) [52]. Ming
et al.s research showed that abnormal lipid peroxidation
parameters were returned to near normal level and lipid per-
oxidation accumulation was inhibited after administrating
LPS to mice fed on HFD. This suggests that LBP seems to
play an imperative role in lipid metabolism [52]. The results
were consistent with previous ndings, where mice and rats
fed with polysaccharide fractions supplemented with HFD
were characterized by lowered concentration of total choles-
terol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides and increased
3Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
concentration of HDL-cholesterol compared to mice and rats
on high-fat diets without polysaccharide fractions [5355].
The evaluation of the lipid prole of diabetic mice and rats
fed on goji extract also showed the same results compared
with the diabetic controls [1, 7]. However, clinical studies
on the lipid-lowering properties of goji berries were limited
and almost exclusively performed in China. More so, orig-
inal data are hardly accessible, and studies were mostly
small-sized and may not have been adequately controlled.
A study of 25 Chinese subjects aged 64-80 years had their
blood lipid peroxides signicantly decreased by 65% after
10 days of ingestion of 50 g/d dry goji berries [56, 57].
However, the small size of the study (N=25) and the
subjectivity of most parameters must be critically pointed
out. An in vivo investigation of the eects of serum
LBP-standardized L. barbarum preparation (GoChi) in a
randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical
study involving 50 Chinese healthy adults aged 55-72 years
showed a signicant decrease in lipid peroxidation (shown
by lower concentrations of malondialdehyde (MDA)) by
8.7% and 6.0% pre-intervention and post-intervention in
the GoChi group compared with the placebo group,
respectively. This was after they were given GoChi or
placebo (120 mL/d) for 30 days [26].
3.3. Hypoglycaemic Eect. Diabetes mellitus is characterized
by abnormally high levels of blood glucose, and it is also
known as hyperglycaemia [58]. Due to the high cost and
adverse side eects of many oral hypoglycaemic agents, the
exploration and discovery of safer and more eective substi-
tutes have become very important and signicant. This has
led to the investigation for hypoglycaemic activity in other
more traditionally edible food sources such as goji berries
which have been shown to have a hypoglycaemic eect in cell
and animal studies [1]. A cell experiment on hypoglycaemic
eects for instance proved that LBP3b (an extraction from
L. barbarum fruit) showed a concentration-dependent eect
on glucose uptake [59]. Male Wistar HFD-STZ-induced dia-
betic rats administered with immunoglobulin (Ig) LBP and
LBP-IV once daily for 4 continuous weeks and treated with
LBP (100 mg/kg) and LBP-IV (200, 100, and 50 mg/kg) after
showed signicantly decreased concentrations of HbA1 and
blood glucose of diabetic rats compared to the diabetic
control group [60]. Alloxan-induced diabetic rabbits fed
with crude LBP and puried polysaccharide fraction
(LBP-X) from L. barbarum for 10 days also showed a
signicant reduction in blood glucose level [7, 61]. Similar
results were observed after a 28-day treatment in
alloxan-induced diabetic mice with LBP [6264]. This
was consistent with Zou et al.s [65] ndings where the
rat insulinoma cell line was used. Very limited or no
clinical human studies exist, however.
3.4. Allergic and Anaphylactic Reactions. Monzon-Ballarin
et al. [66] described two clinical cases who reported allergic
symptoms after goji berry ingestion. The patients had a pos-
itive skin prick test and a detection of specic immunoglob-
ulin (Ig) E to goji berry. An analysis of the allergenic prole
of the two patients showed a 9 kDa band, suggesting that
the corresponding protein might be related to lipid transfer
proteins (LTPs). Larramendi et al. [67] further reported a
study involving 31 subjects in Spain. The subjects included
ve patients reporting allergenic symptoms on intake of
goji berries, six tolerating the berries, and 20 never having
eaten goji berries. All subjects underwent skin prick tests
with goji berries, as well as with peach peel and plant food
panallergens as biomarkers of cross-reactivity between
unrelated foods. They reported that the skin tests to goji
berries were positive in 24 subjects (77%). Positivity to goji
berries was related with positivity to peach peel and to the
panallergen-nonspecic LTPs.
3.5. Anticancer, Antitumour, Immunostimulatory, and
Modulatory Eects. Goji berries have been utilised in tradi-
tional Chinese medicine to prevent the onset and progression
of cancer for so many years, due to its rich phytochemical
and antioxidant composition [1]. Some of its ingredients
might have a better therapeutic eect on cancer than other
foods. Hsu et al. [68] have reported that the L. barbarum
carotenoid nanoemulsion was more eective in inhibiting
HT-29 cancer cells as compared to that of the carotenoid
extract. Furthermore, both nanoemulsion and extract
could upregulate p53 and p21 expression and downregu-
late CDK1, CDK2, cyclin A, and cyclin B expression and
arrest the cell cycle at G2/M. Moreover, attributing to
most of the biological eects of the fruits including anti-
cancer, antitumour, and immunomodulatory and proper-
ties, goji berries are unusually rich in water-soluble
peptide-conjugated polysaccharides (i.e., LBPs) [6971].
They have the ability to enhance or potentiate the host
defence mechanisms in a way to inhibit tumour growth
without harming the host. Research work conducted by
Tang et al. [41] and Gan et al. [69] established that com-
pounds in goji berries have proapoptotic and antiprolifer-
ative activity against cancer cells.
3.6. Neurological Protective Eect. The neurological protec-
tive eect of goji berries has been demonstrated in an exper-
imental study including human clinical trial. Glutamate has
been shown to be excitotoxic and is being implicated in many
neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinsons disease
and Alzheimers disease [61, 72]. Thus, reduction of gluta-
mate toxicity is considered a therapeutic strategy for those
neurodegenerative diseases.
A study by Yang et al. [73] showed that LBP pretreatment
signicantly improved neurological decits by decreasing the
infarct size, hemispheric swelling, and water content in an
experimental stroke model C57BL/6N male mice fed with
either vehicle (PBS) or LBP (1 or 10 mg/kg) daily for 7 days,
indicating the neuroprotective eect of LBP. LBP again
improved the survival rate and promoted the growth of
mixed cultured retinal ganglion cells, from neonatal
Sprague-Dawley rats [74]. The rst double-blind randomized
control study performed outside China to assess the general
eects of goji juice (GoChi) in young healthy adults con-
cluded that consumption of GoChifor 14 days improved
neurological performance generally [75]. It should be noted
4 Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
however that assessment of most parameters was subjective
and the sample size was small in this study (N=34).
3.7. Cardiovascular Protective Eect. In an experiment to
investigate the role of LBP in the reduction of myocardial
injury in ischemia/reperfusion among rats, the rat heart
LBP signicantly reduced the myocardium Bax-positive rate;
also, through dose-dependent methods, the apoptosis of
myocardial cell and increase in Bcl-2 positive rate suggest
that LBP can prevent further development and deterioration
of CVD [76]. Regarding the eects on renal vascular tension
of LBP, Jia et al. [77] tested the one-clip hypertension model
among rats with hypertension. It was observed that
compared to rats not treated for hypertension, in isolated
aortic rings of LBP-treated rats, the reduced phenylephrine
contraction was observed, causing that LBP-treated rats were
signicantly prevented from elevated blood pressure.
Another experiment was that rats with hyperlipidemia were
administered to take dierent concentrations (1 g/kg to
4 g/kg) of L. barbarum decoction for 10 consecutive days by
gastric perfusion. The authors reported that in the serum
and liver of rats, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels were
reduced; also, the level of serum low-density lipoprotein-
(LDL-) C was decreased [5, 78]. A similar result was observed
in a study by Luo et al. [7]. LBPs lowered serum total choles-
terol and triglyceride levels; meanwhile, the high-density
lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level was increased after a
10-day treatment among rabbits.
3.8. Antiaging Eects. In a recent review, Gao et al. [79] have
discussed the various components contributing to the antiag-
ing properties of L. barbarum. These notable components are
LBPs, betaine, β-carotene, zeaxanthin, 2-O-β-D-glucopyra-
nosyl-L-ascorbic acid (AA-2βG), and avanoids [79]. L. bar-
barum contains betaine (a natural amino-acid). The Lycium
Chinese Miller fruit extract containing betaine has been
shown to mitigate carbon tetrachloride- (CCl4-) induced
hepatic injury by increasing antioxidative activity and lower-
ing inammatory mediators such as COX-1/COX-2 and
iNOS. Histopathological examination was employed to con-
rm the ameliorative eects of the extract and betaine [80].
Betaine has been shown to be an anti-inammation agent
associated with colon carcinogenesis. It also has been shown
to possess a tumour-preventing eect on colitis-associated
cancer in mice induced by azoxymethane. Administration
with betaine signicantly lowered the incidence of tumour
formation with downregulation of inammation. Treatment
with betaine also inhibited the production of the ROS and
GSSG level in colonic mucosa and inhibited inammatory
cytokines including IL-6, iNOS, TNF-α, and COX-2 [81].
Betaine has been shown to have preventive eects on ultravi-
olet B (UVB) irradiation-induced skin damage in mice. UVB
is a common kind of free radical that can cause extrinsic
aging, such as skin aging. Betaine has been proved to reduce
photodamage caused by UVB irradiation. Betaine can be
used to suppress the formation of UVB-induced wrinkle
and collagen damage by inhibiting the extracellular
signal-regulated kinase (ERK), protein kinase (MEK), and
matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) [82].
3.9. Adverse Eects of Goji Berries. Apart from the allergic
and anaphylactic reactions, other side eects that consumers
should be aware of are to be mentioned. These include the
presence of organic toxic substances and risk of interactions
with other prescriptions besides allergy. Atropine, a toxic
alkaloid, is naturally present in goji berry. The content was
reported to be at toxic level. In a further work by Adam
and co-workers, the atropine concentration in eight samples
of goji berries using HPLC-MS was found to be maximally
19 ppb (w/w). Therefore, its content is far below toxic levels
(Adam et al., 2006).
Patients who experienced interactions between goji
berries and warfarin have been described in three published
case reports. Warfarin is prescribed as a common anticoagu-
lation therapy. The international normalized ratio (INR) was
observed to elevate in patients after drinking goji tea [83].
Increased bleeding from the rectum and nose was observed
in another patient who drank goji berry juice [84]. Most
recently, a study by Zhang et al. reported that an elderly
man taking a prolonged maintenance dose of warfarin after
drinking goji berry wine experienced an increased interna-
tional normalized ratio (INR) with associated bleeding [85].
Other possible interactions between goji berries and pre-
scription medications are still unknown. It is important to
take into consideration the possible risks of taking goji
berries in individuals taking medications with a narrow
therapeutic index.
Arroyo-Martinez et al. described a case report of toxic
hepatitis related to the use of goji. The symptoms reported
included nonbloody diarrhea, asthenia, and colic abdominal
pain. The patient had a mild mucocutaneous jaundice and
a generalized erythematous and pruriginous maculopapular
rash. The patient consumed goji berry tea 3 times a day
[86]. The liver function tests were elevated. Goji berries have
been shown to modulate the expression of CYP2C9 and
CYP2E1 and have an immunomodulatory property [2].
However, another possible change in goji composition is
contamination, during its production and post-marketing.
Thus, the toxic side eects of post-marketing surveillance
are another area of concern.
4. Conclusion
Similar to other plants [8791], goji berries are a high antiox-
idant potential fruits which alleviate oxidative stress to confer
many health protective benets such as preventing free
radicals from damaging DNA, lipids, and proteins. There is
a better protection through synergistic and additive eects
in fruits and herbal products from a complex mixture of phy-
tochemicals than from a single phytochemical. The health
benets of goji berries include enhancing hemopoiesis, anti-
radiation, antiaging, anticancer, improvement of immunity,
and antioxidation.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conicts of interest.
5Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Zheng Feei Ma would like to thank Siew Poh Tan, Peng
Keong Ma, Zheng Xiong Ma, Siew Huah Tan, and Feng Yuan
Lau for their active encouragement and support of this work.
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... L. barbarum contains many phytochemicals and nutrients, including carotenoids, flavonoids, zeaxanthin, Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP), fats, proteins, vitamins, and mineral elements. [16] LBP, the main active ingredients in the fruit of L. barbarum, have been reported to have some health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory, [15] antioxidant, [17,18] hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic [19][20][21] properties in recent years. Because of these health properties, L. barbarum has excellent potential as a functional food [15,22] and for the prevention of age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, [23] neurodegenerative diseases, [24] type 2 diabetes, [25] and age-related macular degeneration. ...
Full-text available
Background Dyslipidemia is a global health concern with an increasing prevalence worldwide. Lycium barbarum (L. barbarum ) is widely used as a medicinal and functional food, and evidence suggests that it may be beneficial for lipid management. In this study, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of L. barbarum supplementation on lipid profiles in adults. Methods PubMed, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, The Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and Wanfang Database were searched from inception until October 2022. The random-effect model was applied, and the pooled effect sizes were expressed as mean differences (MDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Results The meta-analysis of 5 randomized controlled trials involving 259 subjects indicated that L. barbarum supplementation significantly decreased the triglyceride (TG) concentration (MD: 0.14 mmol/L, 95% CI: 0.08–0.20) and increased the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration (HDL-C) (MD: −0.07 mmol/L, 95% CI: −0.13 to −0.01). However, the reductions in total cholesterol (TC) concentration (MD: 0.11 mmol/L, 95% CI: −0.37 to 0.59) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentration (MD: 0.21 mmol/L, 95% CI: −0.46 to 0.89) were not statistically significant. Conclusion The present study showed that L. barbarum supplementation might have some beneficial effects on TG and HDL-C concentrations in adults, and L. barbarum fruit has an even greater effect on TG and HDL-C concentrations. Considering the sensitivity analyses and limitations of the study included, further large-scale studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Although blue light can damage the skin to a certain extent, the pathogenesis of its damage remains still unclear. The available evidence suggests that oxidative stress may be the main cause of its damage. Lycium barbarum polysaccharide (LBP) has antioxidative effects in a variety of cells. In this paper, we investigated the protective role of LBP and its mechanism of action related to mitophagy in blue-light-damaged skin cells. The findings indicated that in HaCaT cells and mouse skin, LBP pretreatment was effective in reducing blue-light-induced apoptosis and ameliorating the elevated level of cellular autophagy/mitophagy caused by excessive blue light exposure. The markers reactive oxygen species (ROS), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and malondialdehyde (MDA) were used to assess oxidative stress. LBP could effectively inhibit blue-light-induced oxidative stress. It was also found that blue light exposure caused mitochondrial dysfunction in HaCaT cells, including increased intracellular calcium ion levels and decreased mitochondrial membrane potential. LBP pretreatment significantly relieved mitochondrial dysfunction in HaCaT cells. These findings imply that LBP pretreatment protects skin cells from damage induced by blue light irradiation and that mitophagy may be a significant factor in skin photodamage.
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Goji berry (GB) shows beneficial effects on human health, although its effects on the male rabbit have been little investigated. This study examines the impact of GB dietary supplementation on the semen traits, antioxidant capacity of seminal plasma, and histological features of the reproductive tract of rabbit buck. Eighteen rabbits were distributed into two dietary groups: one receiving a commercial feed (Control), and the other a feed supplemented with 1% of GB (Goji). After a nutritional adaptation period of 60 days, the animals were subjected to semen collection every 15 days. The semen traits, libido, antioxidant, and inflammatory parameters were collected and analyzed. The rabbits were sacrificed after 60 days, and tissues of the genital tract were analyzed. Compared to the Control group, the Goji group showed higher spermatozoa concentration, motility, and vitality (p < 0.05), as well as fewer abnormal spermatozoa and a higher libido (p < 0.1). Histological features such as functional activity and hyperplasia were improved by GB and correlated with some semen traits (p < 0.05). Conversely, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory parameters were unaffected by the diet. These findings suggest that GB acts on the tissues of the reproductive tract positively influencing semen quality, although further studies are needed to understand the effect on oxidative stress.
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The effects of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP) and plasmon-activated water (PAW) against IFN-γ/TNF-α induced inflammation in human colon Caco-2 cells were investigated. Cells were divided into the control, induction, LBP treatment (100–500 μg/mL), and combination groups with PAW. Inflammation was induced 24 h with 10 ng/mL IFN-γ when cell confluency reached >90%, and various doses of LBP with or without PAW were treated for 3 h, and subsequently 50 ng/mL TNF-α was added for another 24 h to provoke inflammation. Combination of LBP with PAW significantly decreased the secretion of IL-6 and IL-8. Cyclooxygenase-2 and inducible NO synthase expression was attenuated in all LBP-treated groups with or without PAW. NLRP3 inflammasome and related protein PYCARD expression were inhibited by LBP at the highest dose (500 μg/mL). All doses of LBP alone significantly decreased p-ERK expression, but combination with PAW increased p-ERK expression compared to those without PAW. Additionally, 250 and 500 μg/mL of LBP with or without PAW inhibited procaspase-3/caspase-3 expression. Therefore, LBP possesses anti-inflammation and anti-apoptosis by inhibiting the secretion of inflammatory cytokines and the expression of NLRP3 inflammasome-related protein. The combination with PAW exerts additive or synergistic effect on anti-inflammation.
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Lycium ruthenicum Murray (LRM; commonly known as black goji berry or black wolfberry), a plant in the Solanaceae family, grows in the deserts of China’s Qinghai–Tibet plateau. LRM is widely consumed in traditional Chinese medicine, and its fruits are frequently used as herbal remedies to treat heart disease, fatigue, inflammation, and other conditions. Many studies have reported that LRM is rich in functional phytochemicals, such as anthocyanins and polysaccharides, and has various pharmacological actions. This article reviews research on the biological and pharmacological effects of the constituents of LRM fruits. LRM has various pharmacological properties, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-radiation, immune-enhancing, anti-tumor, and protective effects. LRM has much promise as a dietary supplement for preventing many types of chronic metabolic disease.
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Background/objectives: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic disease with an increasing incidence globally; therefore, there is a growing demand for natural compounds effective in treating dermatitis. In this study, the protective effects of Lycium barbarum leaves with and without chlorophyll (LLE and LLE[Ch-]) on AD were investigated in animal models of AD and HaCaT cells. Further, we investigated whether LLE and LLE(Ch-) show any differences in physiological activity. Materials/methods: AD was induced by 2,4-dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB) for three weeks, while NC/Nga mice were fed LLE or LLE(Ch-) extracts for 7 weeks. Serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) and cytokine (tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-α, interleukin [IL]-6, and IL-4) concentrations and the degree of DNA fragmentation in lymphocytes were examined. A histopathological examination (haematoxylin & eosin staining and blue spots of toluidine) of the dorsal skin of mice was performed. To elucidate the mechanism of action, the expression of the thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC) and macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC) were measured in HaCaT cells. Results: Serum IgE and cytokines (TNF-α and IL-6) levels as well as DNA fragmentation of lymphocytes were significantly decreased in AD-induced mice treated with LLE or LLE(Ch-) compared to those of the control group. The epidermal thickness of the dorsal skin and mast cell infiltration in the LLE group significantly reduced compared to that in the control group. The LLE extracts showed no cytotoxicity up to 1,000 µg/mL in HaCaT cells. LLE or LLE(Ch-)-treated group showed a reduction of TARC and MDC in TNF-α-and IFN-γ-stimulated HaCaT cells. Conclusions: These results suggest that LLE potentially improves inflammation by reducing the expression of chemokines that inhibit T helper 2 cell migration. LLE(Ch-) showed similar effects to LLE on blood levels of IgE, TNF-α and IL-6 and protein expression in HaCat cells, but the ultimate effect of skin improvement was not statistically significant. Therefore, both LLE and LLE(Ch-) can be used as functional materials to alleviate AD, but LLE(Ch-) appears to require more research to improve inflammation.
Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of Zhenqi Buxue Oral Liquid (ZQ), progesterone capsules, and their combination in treating oligomenorrhea and hypomenorrhea with qi-blood and Kidney (Shen) essence deficiency. Methods: This was a prospective, randomized, multi-center controlled trial between June 2022 to December 2022. Ninety-six oligomenorrhea and hypomenorrhea patients with qi-blood and Shen essence deficiency were randomly assigned to receive ZQ (ZQ group, 29 cases), progesterone capsules (PG group, 32 cases), or the combined Chinese and Western medicine (COM group, 31 cases) at a ratio of 1:1:1. Patients in the ZQ or PG group took daily 10 mL twice a day of ZQ or 200 mg once a day of progesterone capsules for 10 consecutive days on day 15 of the menstrual cycle respectively, and patients in the COM group received the same ZQ combined with progesterone capsules. The treatment course lasted for 3 months and follow-up was performed at 1 and 3 months after the end of treatment. Primary endpoint was the menstrual Traditional Chinese Medicine Syndrome Scale (TCMSS) scores. Secondary endpoints included pictorial blood loss assessment chart (PBAC) scores, clinical efficacy rate, 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) scores, sex hormones and thickness of endometrium. Adverse events (AEs) were recorded. Results: TCMSS scores after 1- and 3-month treatment in all groups were significantly lower than those at baseline (P<0.05). Only TCMSS scores after 3-month treatment in the ZQ and COM groups continuously decreased compared with those after 1-month treatment in the same group (P<0.01). TCMSS scores after 3-month treatment in the ZQ and COM groups were significantly lower than those in the PG group (P<0.05, P<0.01). Compared with baseline, PBAC scores in the ZQ and COM groups after 3 months of treatment were also significantly higher (both P<0.01). The total effective rates of TCM syndrome of 3-month treatment were significantly improved in all groups compared with that after 1 month of treatment (P<0.05). The total effective rate of the COM group was the highest in the 3rd month of treatment and significantly higher than that of PG group alone (P<0.05). Compared with baseline, only the SF-36 scores of COM group were significantly improved after 3 months of treatment (P<0.05). No serious adverse reactions were observed after treatment. Conclusions: The combination of ZQ and PG, or ZQ only had better effects on reducing TCMSS scores compared with PG, and COM showed the higher total effective rate compared with monotherapy. Besides, COM could effectively improve menstrual blood loss and quality of life. ZQ combined with PG may be an effective and safe option for oligomenorrhea and hypomenorrhea patients with qi-blood and Shen essence deficiency.
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Whole grain foods have been promoted to be included as one of the important components of a healthy diet because of the relationship between the regular consumption of whole-grain foods and reduced risk of chronic diseases. Rice is a staple food, which has been widely consumed for centuries by many Asian countries. Studies have suggested that brown rice is associated with a wide spectrum of nutrigenomic implications such as anti-diabetic, anti-cholesterol, cardioprotective and antioxidant. This is because of the presence of various phytochemicals that are mainly located in bran layers of brown rice. Therefore, this paper is a review of publications that focuses on the bioactive compounds and nutrigenomic implications of brown rice. Although current evidence supports the fact that the consumption of brown rice is beneficial for health, these studies are heterogeneous in terms of their brown rice samples used and population groups, which cause the evaluation to be difficult. Future clinical studies should focus on the screening of individual bioactive compounds in brown rice with reference to their nutrigenomic implications.
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Mulberry (Morus alba L.) belongs to the Moraceae family and is widely planted in Asia. Mulberry fruits are generally consumed as fresh fruits, jams and juices. They contain considerable amounts of biologically active ingredients that might be associated with some potential pharmacological activities that are beneficial for health. Therefore, they have been traditionally used in traditional medicine. Studies have reported that the presence of bioactive components in mulberry fruits, including alkaloids and flavonoid, are associated with bioactivities such as antioxidant. One of the most important compounds in mulberry fruits is anthocyanins which are water-soluble bioactive ingredients of the polyphenol class. Studies have shown that mulberry fruits possess several potential pharmacological health benefits including anti-cholesterol, anti-obesity and hepatoprotective effects which might be associated with the presence of some of these bioactive compounds. However, human intervention studies on the pharmacological activities of mulberry fruits are limited. Therefore, future studies should explore the effect of mulberry fruit consumption on human health and elucidate the detailed compounds. This paper provides an overview of the pharmacological activities of mulberry fruits.
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The human gut is densely populated with diverse microbial communities that are essential to health. Prebiotics and fiber have been shown to possess the ability to modulate the gut microbiota. One of the plants being considered as a potential source of prebiotic is yacon. Yacon is an underutilized plant consumed as a traditional root-based fruit in South America. Yacon mainly contains fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin. Therefore, it has bifidogenic benefits for gut health, because FOS are not easily broken down by digestive enzymes. Bioactive chemical compounds and extracts isolated from yacon have been studied for their various nutrigenomic properties, including as a prebiotic for intestinal health and their antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. This article reviewed scientific studies regarding the bioactive chemical compounds and nutrigenomic properties of extracts and isolated compounds from yacon. These findings may help in further research to investigate yacon-based nutritional products. Yacon can be considered a potential prebiotic source and a novel functional food. However, more detailed epidemiological, animal, and human clinical studies, particularly mechanism-based and phytopharmacological studies, are lacking for the development of evidence-based functional food products.
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Over the past decades, there has been increasing attention on polyphenol-rich foods including fruits and vegetables on human health. Polyphenols have been shown to possess some potential beneficial effects on human health and they are widely found in foods consumed by populations worldwide. Capparis spinosa (C. spinosa) is an important source of different secondary metabolites of interest to humankind. The traditional therapeutic applications of C. spinosa have been reported in Ancient Romans. Numerous bioactive phytochemical constituents have been isolated and identified from different parts (aerial parts, roots and seeds) of C. spinosa which are responsible alone or in combination for its various pharmacological activities. Therefore, this paper is a review of publications on the phytochemical and pharmacological properties of C. spinosa. There is insufficient evidence to suggest that C. spinosa or its extracts are able to improve the biomarkers of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. However, these studies used different parts of C. spinosa plant, methods of preparation and types of solvents, which cause the evaluation of activity of C. spinosa difficult and involve quite heterogeneous data. There is also evidence, although limited, to suggest benefits of C. spinosa in improving human health. Therefore, the relationship between C. spinosa and improved human health outcomes requires further study.
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Lycium barbarum has been used in China for more than 2,000 years as a traditional medicinal herb and food supplement. Lycium barbarum contains abundant Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs), betaine, phenolics, carotenoids (zeaxanthin and β-carotene), cerebroside, 2-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-l-ascorbic acid (AA-2βG), β-sitosterol, flavonoids and vitamins (in particular, riboflavin, thiamine, and ascorbic acid). LBPs are the primary active components of Lycium barbarum. In this review, we discuss the pharmacological activities of LBPs and other major components. They have been reported to mediate significant anti-aging effects, through antioxidant, immunoregulative, anti-apoptotic activities and reducing DNA damage. Thus, the basic scientific evidence for anti-aging effects of LBPs is already available. However, additional studies are needed to understand mechanisms by which LBPs mediate anti-aging properties. Novel findings from such studies would likely pave the way for the clinical application of traditional chinese medicine Lycium barbarum in modern evidence-based medicine.
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Grapes are one of the most widely grown fruits and have been used for winemaking since the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Grape seeds are rich in proanthocyanidins which have been shown to possess potent free radical scavenging activity. Grape seeds are a complex matrix containing 40% fiber, 16% oil, 11% proteins, and 7% complex phenols such as tannins. Grape seeds are rich sources of flavonoids and contain monomers, dimers, trimers, oligomers, and polymers. The monomeric compounds includes (+)-catechins, (-)-epicatechin, and (-)-epicatechin-3-O-gallate. Studies have reported that grape seeds exhibit a broad spectrum of pharmacological properties against oxidative stress. Their potential health benefits include protection against oxidative damage, and anti-diabetic, anti-cholesterol, and anti-platelet functions. Recognition of such health benefits of proanthocyanidins has led to the use of grape seeds as a dietary supplement by the consumers. This paper summarizes the studies of the phytochemical compounds, pharmacological properties, and industrial applications of grape seeds.
Lycium barbarum L., a traditional Chinese herb widely used in Asian countries, has been demonstrated to be protective against chronic diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. The objectives of this study were to determine the carotenoid content in L. barbarum by high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, followed by preparation of a carotenoid nanoemulsion to evaluate the mechanism of inhibition on HT-29 colon cancer cells. The highest extraction yield of carotenoids was attained by employing a solvent system of hexane-ethanol-acetone (1:1:1, v/v/v). Nine carotenoids, including neoxanthin (4.47 μg g(-1)), all-trans-zeaxanthin and its cis-isomers (1666.3 μg g(-1)), all-trans-β-cryptoxanthin (51.69 μg g(-1)), all-trans-β-carotene and its cis-isomers (20.11 μg g(-1)), were separated within 45 min and quantified using a YMC C30 column and a gradient mobile phase of methanol-water (9:1, v/v) (A) and methylene chloride (B). A highly stable carotenoid nanoemulsion composed of Capryol(TM) 90, Transcutol(®)HP, Tween 80 and deionized water was prepared with a mean particle size of 15.1 nm. Characterization of zeaxanthin standard, blank nanoemulsion, carotenoid extract and carotenoid nanoemulsion by differential scanning calorimetry curves and Fourier transform infrared spectra revealed a good dispersion of zeaxanthin-dominated carotenoid extract with no significant chemical change after incorporation into nanoemulsion. The in vitro release kinetic study showed a higher release profile at pH 5.2 than at physiological pH 7.4, suggesting a rapid release of carotenoids in the acidic environment (pH 4.5-6.5) characteristic of tumors. Both the carotenoid nanoemulsion and the extract were effective at inhibiting growth of HT-29 colon cancer cells, with an IC50 of 4.5 and 4.9 μg ml(-1), respectively. Also, both treatments could up-regulate p53 and p21 expression and down-regulate CDK2, CDK1, cyclin A and cyclin B expression and arrest the cell cycle at G2/M. The study may form a basis for further exploration of L. barbarum nanoemulsion in cancer treatment.
Dried fruits are important snacks and additives to other foods due to their taste and nutritional advantages. Therefore there is an important goal to control the quality of the food on the market for consumer’s safety. Antioxidant activity of goji fruits (Lycium barbarum), cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon and oxycoccus) and raisins (Vitis vinifera) were studied using the DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) and Folin-Ciocalteu assays. Cu, Mn and Ge influencing antioxidant activity were determined together with selected toxic metals (Cd, Ni and Pb). Contamination with fungi was studied by quantification of their marker - ergosterol and important mycotoxins (aflatoxins B1, B2, G1 and G2, and ochratoxin A) were also determined. Antioxidant activity of all tested dried fruits was confirmed with goji fruits being the most profitable for consumers. Contamination of the tested fruits with toxic metals and mycotoxins was low.