Identification of bioactive phytochemicals in mulberries

Gilda D’urso, Jurriaan J. Mes, Paola Montoro, Robert D. Hall, Ric C.H. de Vos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Mulberries are consumed either freshly or as processed fruits and are traditionally used to tackle several diseases, especially type II diabetes. Here, we investigated the metabolite compositions of ripe fruits of both white (Morus alba) and black (Morus nigra) mulberries, using reversed-phase HPLC coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-MS), and related these to their in vitro antioxidant and α-glucosidase inhibitory activities. Based on accurate masses, fragmentation data, UV/Vis light absorbance spectra and retention times, 35 metabolites, mainly comprising phenolic compounds and amino sugar acids, were identified. While the antioxidant activity was highest in M. nigra, the α-glucosidase inhibitory activities were similar between species. Both bioactivities were mostly resistant to in vitro gastrointestinal digestion. To identify the bioactive compounds, we combined LC-MS with 96-well-format fractionation followed by testing the individual fractions for α-glucosidase inhibition, while compounds responsible for the antioxidant activity were identified using HPLC with an online antioxidant detection system. We thus determined iminosugars and phenolic compounds in both M. alba and M. nigra, and anthocyanins in M. nigra as being the key α-glucosidase inhibitors, while anthocyanins in M. nigra and both phenylpropanoids and flavonols in M. alba were identified as key antioxidants in their ripe berries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Antioxidant activity
  • High resolution mass spectrometry
  • In vitro gastrointestinal digestion
  • Mulberry
  • α-glucosidase inhibitory activity

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