Induction of EpRE-mediated gene expression by a series of mediterranean botanicals and their constituents

Georgia Papadi*, Sebastiaan Wesseling, Anastassios N. Troganis, Jacques Vervoort, Ivonne M.C.M. Rietjens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Ethnopharmacological relevance: A variety of Mediterranean plant species, traditionally used for the prevention and treatment of several health conditions, contain ingredients with potential biological activity of which many remain unexplored. Among the beneficial health effects of bioactive phytochemicals is the activation of cellular defense mechanisms involving the activation of EpRE (electrophile responsive element) - mediated changes in gene expression. Aim of the study: The present study aimed to identify botanicals and their active constituents able to activate the EpRE mediated gene expression within a series of Mediterranean plant species known for their hepatoprotective and/or cardioprotective properties. Materials and methods: Methanolic extracts of 18 botanicals were prepared and tested for their ability to induce gene expression in EpRE-LUX reporter cells. Subsequently, LC-MS (Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry) analysis combined with MAGMa (MS Annotation based on in silico Generated Metabolites) software for automated compound annotation was used to facilitate tentative identification of the active constituents within two of the active extracts. Selected annotated compounds were tested in the EpRE-LUX reporter gene assay followed by definite identification of the most active ones. Results: It appeared that 9 of the 18 extracts were able to activate EpRE-mediated gene expression. Many active ingredients of the methanolic extracts from Juglans regia and Rhamnus frangula were revealed. Among them, chrysophanol and aloe-emodin were confirmed to be active EpRE inducing ingredients and were definitely identified in the Rhamnus Frangula extract. Conclusions: The protective effect of half of the tested botanical varieties via the activation of EpRE-mediated gene expression was confirmed. The study also provided an example of how in vitro bioassays can be combined with LC-MS and the automated chemical annotation software MAGMa, to identify biologically active constituents in complex botanical extracts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111940
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2019


  • Aloe-emodin
  • Botanical extracts
  • Chrysophanol
  • EpRE/Nrf2
  • MAGMa
  • Rhamnus frangula


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