Saffron bioactives crocin, crocetin and safranal: effect on oxidative stress and mechanisms of action.
Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Dec 24:1-18. Epub 2020 Dec 24. PMID: 33356506
Saffron (L.) is used as a spice for its organoleptic characteristics related to its coloring and flavoring properties, and it has been also used in traditional medicine to treat various diseases. The main chemical components responsible for these properties are crocin, crocetin and safranal. These compounds have been shown to have a wide spectrum of biological activities, including several properties as antigenotoxic, antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antiatherosclerotic, antidiabetic, hypotensive, hypoglycemic, antihyperlipidemic, antidegenerative and antidepressant, among others. This review article highlights the antioxidant effects of these bioactive compounds to reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the mechanisms of action involved, since there are a multitude of diseases related to oxidative stress and the generation of free radicals (FRs). Recent studies have shown that the effects of crocin, crocetin and safranal against oxidative stress include the reduction in lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde [MDA] levels) and nitric oxide (NO) levels, and the increase in the levels of glutathione, antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase [SOD], catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase [GPx]) and thiol content. Therefore, due to the great antioxidant effects of these saffron compounds, it makes saffron a potential source of bioactive extracts for the development of bioactive ingredients, which can be used to produce functional foods.