Plant Foods for Human Nutrition

, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 322–329 | Cite as

Dehydrated Basella alba Fruit Juice as a Novel Natural Colorant: Pigment Stability, In Vivo Food Safety Evaluation and Anti-Inflammatory Mechanism Characterization

  • Fu-Long Huang
  • Robin Y.-Y. Chiou
  • Wei-Cheng Chen
  • Huey-Jiun Ko
  • Li-Jung Lai
  • Shu-Mei Lin
Original Paper


Flesh of Basella alba L. mature fruits bearing deep-violet juice provides a novel and potential source of natural colorant. To minimize the pigment purification process and warrant safety acceptability, B. alba colorant powder (BACP) was prepared using mature fruits through a practical batch preparation and subjected to fundamental pigment characterization, food safety assessment and bio-function evaluation. Yield of the dehydrated B. alba colorant powder (BACP) was 37 g/kg fresh fruits. Reconstituted aqueous solution of the BACP exhibited an identical visible spectrum (400–700 nm) as that of fresh juice. Color of the solution (absorbance at 540 nm) was stable in a broad pH ranged from 3 to 8 and enhanced by co-presence of calcium and magnesium ions, while was rapidly bleached by ferrous and ferric ions. For in vivo food safety evaluation, ICR mice were daily gavage administered with BACP up to 1000 mg/kg body weight for 28 days. Organ weight determination, serum biochemical analysis and histopathological examination of hearts, livers, lungs and kidneys revealed no obvious health hazard. In vitro anti-inflammatory activity of BACP was characterized in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced RAW 264.7 macrophages. BACP exerted potent anti-inflammatory activity by down-regulation of inflammatory mediators including nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-12 and the blockage of IκB kinase (IKK)/IκB/nuclear factor-κ B (NFκB) activation cascade. These results supported that BACP may serve as a beneficial alternative of natural food colorant.


Basella alba fruits Natural colorant Food safety Anti-inflammatory activity 



alanine aminotransferase


aspartate aminotransferase


B. alba colorant powder


blood urea nitrogen




degradation index


Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium


enhanced chemiluminescence


enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases


glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase


gomphrenin I

H & E

hematoxylin and eosin


IκB kinase




inducible nitric oxide synthase


c-jun N-terminal kinase


lactate dehydrogenase




nuclear factor-κ B




polyphenol oxidase



Financial support by National Science Council (NSC 97-2313-B415-008-MY3) and advisory assistance on histopathological examination by Dr. D.-Y. Lo, Department of Veterinary, National Chiayi University are acknowledged.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was financially supported by Ministry of Science and Technology, Executive Yuan, ROC (NSC 97–2313-B415–008-MY3).

Conflict of Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interests.

Animal Study

The animal experiment conducted in this study was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) of National Chiayi University.

Supplementary material

11130_2016_563_MOESM1_ESM.docx (247 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 247 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fu-Long Huang
    • 1
  • Robin Y.-Y. Chiou
    • 1
  • Wei-Cheng Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Huey-Jiun Ko
    • 1
    • 3
  • Li-Jung Lai
    • 1
    • 4
  • Shu-Mei Lin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Food ScienceNational Chiayi UniversityChiayi CityRepublic of China
  2. 2.Graduate Institute of Food Science and TechnologyNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiRepublic of China
  3. 3.National Institute of Cancer ResearchNational Health Research InstitutesTaiwanRepublic of China
  4. 4.Department of Food NutritionChung Hwa University of Medical TechnologyTaiwanRepublic of China

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