Hairy root cultures of Cynara cardunculus L. as a valuable source of hydroxycinnamic acid compounds

André Folgado, Ana Teresa Serra, Inês Prazeres, Andreia Bento-Silva, M. Rosário Bronze, Rita Abranches

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Plants are important sources of chemical compounds with various applications. These are usually associated with the secondary metabolism of plants which is tightly linked to the interactions with the surrounding environment. These compounds usually accumulate in low amounts, sometimes leading to the overexploitation of the source plant. Hence, development of alternative platforms for the production of these compounds represents a more sustainable solution. Among such platforms, hairy roots (HR) cultures are often used for their ability to produce the same secondary metabolites as the original plant. Cynara cardunculus L. or cardoon has been used in folk medicine to treat various diseases. Distinct parts of the plant have been studied and found to produce secondary metabolites with health promoting properties. In this work, HR cultures from cardoon were characterized regarding their secondary metabolites production and potential biological activities. Methanolic extracts contained compounds that belong, almost exclusively, to the hydroxycinnamic acid group. These extracts showed maximum total phenolic content and antioxidant activity of 46 mg GAE/g DW and 98 μmolTE/g DW, respectively, at day 35 of the growth curve. This extract also showed antiproliferative activity on colorectal cancer cells (EC50 1.16 ± 0.07 mg/mL). This work demonstrates the potential of cardoon HR as alternative sources for valuable hydroxycinnamic acid compounds with important biological activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Antioxidant activity
  • Antiproliferative activity on cancer cells
  • Cardoon
  • Hairy root cultures
  • Hydroxycinnamic acid
  • Thistle


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