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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353

S. Afr. j. sci. vol.103 n.1-2 Pretoria Jan./Feb. 2007




Screening of four Cyclopia (honeybush) species for putative phyto-oestrogenic activity by oestrogen receptor binding assays



N.J.D. VerhoogI; E. JoubertII; A. LouwI

IDepartment of Biochemistry, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa
IIPost-Harvest & Wine Technology Division, ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa




Phyto-oestrogens mediate an oestrogenic effect through binding to the oestrogen receptor (ER) subtypes, ERa and ERß. Four commercially available Cyclopia (honeybush) species-C. intermedia, C. subternata, C. genistoides and C. sessiliflora-together with nine commercially obtainable polyphenols present in some or all of the species, were screened for phyto-oestrogenic activity, using a competitive whole-cell ER binding assay. Only naringenin, formononetin and luteolin were able significantly to displace 3H-E2 from hERα, whereas luteolin, naringenin, formononetin, eriodictyol, narirutin and eriocitrin displaced 3H-E2 from hERß. Mangiferin, hesperidin and hesperetin did not bind to either receptor subtype. To our knowledge, this is the first time that binding of eriodictyol, eriocitrin and narirutin to the hERß has been shown. Furthermore, both aqueous and methanol extracts from three independent harvestings of each Cyclopia species were screened. The results suggest that C. genistoides and C. subternata display significant phyto-oestrogenic activity and that methanol extracts from 'unfer-mented' (unoxidized) plant material generally display greater activity. Great variation exists within a species, however, with one C. genistoides harvesting displacing 3H-E2 from both ER subtypes, while another harvesting displaced 3H-E2 from only hERß, and a third did not displace 3H-E2 from either receptor subtype.



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Received 24 April 2006.
Accepted 25 September 2006.



* Author for correspondence. E-mail:

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