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Catechins and procyanidins in berries of vaccinium species and their antioxidant activity

The fractions of monomeric catechins and the fractions of dimeric and trimeric procyanidins were extracted and concentrated from wild berries of Vaccinium species to study their antioxidant activities. The compositions of the fractions were analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography combined with diode-array and electrospray ionization mass spectrometric detection. Rare A-type dimers and trimers were identified as the predominant procyanidins in wild lingonberry, cranberry, bilberry, and bog whortleberry. Lingonberry and cranberry catechin and procyanidin fractions as well as bog whortleberry catechin fraction were good scavengers of radicals in the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) test and more efficient than the respective bilberry fractions. Bog whortleberry procyanidin fraction was less active, this being mainly due to the lower content of these compounds. Fractions from lingonberry, cranberry, and bilberry were equally efficient in inhibiting the oxidation of methyl linoleate emulsion, but differences among the berries were found in their abilities to inhibit low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation. Catechins, the monomers, exhibited comparable activity to the fractions containing dimers and trimers in inhibiting the oxidation of methyl linoleate emulsion and human LDL. Bog whortleberry catechins were excellent antioxidants toward the oxidation of human LDL. Radical scavenging and antioxidant activities of Vaccinium berry fractions were attributable to the their composition of catechins and procyanidins. In conclusion, Vaccinium catechins as well as dimeric and trimeric procyanidins provide substantial antioxidant protection.

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