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Chemical constituent and bioactivities from cinnamon polyphenolic extract

Cinnamon has a great economic importance for its multiple culinary uses as common spices worldwide. It has a long history of uses as pharmacological agents due to the presence of its bioactive compounds. Essential oil obtained from cinnamon bark contains cinnamaldehyde as a major active compound. The uses of cinnamaldehyde as a flavour and fragrance component as well as its biological activities have been presented in previous articles.

Moreover, the water-soluble or aqueous extract from cinnamon bark is well known as a commercialized product called by Cinnulin PF. Cinnulin PF contains a specific bioactive compound called type A polymers which are proved to be responsible for some of the potential health benefits related to cinnamon. Due to the high presence of polyphenol, the aqueous cinnamon extract is called as polyphenol-rich cinnamon bark extract (De Giani et al., 2022). Dvorackova et al. (2015) and De Giani et al. (2022) have evaluated the effect of extraction methods on the contents of polyphenolic compounds and their bioactivities from cinnamon extracts.

Polyphenols comprise several groups of molecules such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, catechins, hydroxycinnamates, coumarins, anthocyanins, ellagic acid, lignans, ellagitannins, and isoflavones. Several polyphenolic compounds are approved as generally recognized as safe substrates for food products (Nabavi et al., 2015). According to the report of Lagha et al. (2021), phenolic acids, flavonoids (flavonols and flavan-3-ols), and procyanidins are found in the cinnamon aqueous extract. Cinnamic acid was the most abundant phenolic acid, containing up to 78%, with the concentration per 100 g dry weight of 7.25 g followed by salicylic acid (0.70 g), protocatechuic acid (0,42 g), o-coumaric acid (0.29 g), p-hydroxybenzoic acid (0.27 g), p-coumaric acid (0.22 g), and others. Catechin (0.27 g) and epicatechin (0.15 g), belongs to flavan-3-ol group, are also determined from the same extract. Procyanidin compounds were mostly presented in the form of trimers and tetramers. Anderson et al. (2004) have isolated and characterized the trimers and tetramer of procyanidin type-A which have molecular masses of 864 and 1152 Da, respectively. A-type doubly linked procyanidin trimers of the catechins/epicatechins comprising terminal (T), middle (M), and base (B) units. Molecular structures of the main polyphenolic compounds, namely cinnamic acid, catechin, and procyanidin trimers, are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Molecular structures of cinnamic acid (a), catechin (b), and procyanidin trimers (c, R = catechin or epicatechin).

Cinnamon polyphenols are known as health promoting agents. The benefits of cinnamon polyphenols for human health are similar to antidiabetic, anticancer, antioxidant, and others.

(1) Antidiabetic

Broadhurst et al. (2000) initiated the determination of insulin-like bioactivity from approximately 50 aqueous extracts obtained from culinary and medical plants. The cinnamon aqueous extract showed the highest insulin-like bioactivity compared to others. An aqueous extract of commercial cinnamon and polyphenol polymers cinnamon fractions have insulin-enhancing biological activity and also antioxidant property. This insulin-like bioactivity was not found in a number of compounds derived from cinnamon and other related compounds (Anderson et al., 2004). Cao et al. (2007) revealed the strong evidence of cinnamon polyphenols exhibiting insulin-like activity in cells, animals, and people with type 2 diabetes.

(2) Anticancer

Water-soluble polymeric polyphenol from cinnamon extract had an ability to inhibit cancer cell proliferation by altering the cell cycle pattern in three myeloid cell lines, namely Jurkat, Wurzburg, and U937 (Schoene et al., 2005). In 2009, experimental results by Singh et al. (2009) suggested that aqueous cinnamon extract had a significant inhibitory effect on the majority of cancer cells and may prove to be a chemotherapeutic agent.

(3) Antioxidant

The cinnamon infusions, obtained by water extraction, had the highest antioxidant activity (IC50 = 3.03 µg/mL) compared to the ethanol extract and its water- and ethyl acetate-fractions (IC50 = 8.36 – 13.51 µg/mL) using a 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) method. These IC50 values indicated that cinnamon extract belongs to the very strong antioxidant and their in vitro antioxidant activities were higher than rutin known as a potent antioxidant (Ervina et al., 2016). Roussel et al. (2009) studied the inclusion of a dried aqueous cinnamon extract (Cinnulin PF) in the diet of people. They suggest that Cinnulin PF would reduce oxidative stress and impaired fasting glycemia which are risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. These beneficial effects may be related to the insulin potentiating and antioxidant effects of the cinnamon polyphenol resulting in decreased free radical production.

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  1. Anderson, R.A., Broadhurst, C.L., Polansky, M.M., Schmidt, W.F., Khan, A., Flanagan, V.P., Schoene, N.W., and Graves, D.J. (2004). Isolation and characterization of polyphenol type-A polymers from cinnamon with insulin-like biological activity. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52: 65–70.

  2. Broadhurst, C.L., Polansky, M.M., and Anderson, R.A. (2000). Insulin-like biological activity of culinary and medicinal plant aqueous extract in vitro. Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 48: 849–852.

  3. Cao, H., Polansky, M.M., and Anderson, R.A. (2007). Cinnamon extract and polyphenols affect the expression of tristetraprolin, insulin receptor, and glucose transporter 4 in mouse 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 459: 214–222.

  4. De Giani, A., Pagliari, S., Zampolli, J., Forcella, M., Fusi, P., Bruni, I., Campone, L., and Di Gennaro, P. (2022). Characterization of the biological activities of a new polyphenol-rich extract from cinnamon bark on a probiotic consortium and its action after enzymatic and microbial fermentation on colorectal cell lines. Foods, 11: 3202.

  5. Dvorackova, E., Snoblova, M., Chromcova, L., and Hrdlicka, P. (2015). Effects of extraction methods on the phenolic compounds contents and antioxidant capacities of cinnamon extract. Food Science and Biotechnology, 24: 1201–1207.

  6. Ervina, M., Nawu, Y.E., and Esar, S.Y. (2016). Comparison of in vitro antioxidant activity of infusion, extract and fractions of Indonesian cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmannii) bark. International Food Research Journal, 23: 1346–1350.

  7. Lagha, A.B., Azelmat, J., Vaillancourt, K., and Grenier, D. (2021). A polyphenolic cinnamon fraction exhibits anti-inflammatory properties in a monocyte/macrophage model. PLoS ONE, 16: e0244805.

  8. Nabavi, S.F., Di Lorenzo, A., Izadi, M., Sobarzo-Sanchez, E., Daglia, M., and Nabavi, S.M. (2015). Antibacterial effects of cinnamon: from farm to food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Nutrients, 7: 7729–7748.

  9. Roussel, A.-M., Hininger, I., Benaraba, R., Ziegenfuss, T.N., and Anderson, R.A. (2009). Antioxidant effects of a cinnamon extract in people with impaired fasting glucose that are overweight of obese. Journal of American College of Nutrition, 28: 16–21.

  10. Schoene, N.W., Kelly, M.A., Polansky, M.M., and Anderson, R.A. (2005). Water-soluble polymeric polyphenols from cinnamon inhibit proliferation and alter cell cycle distribution patterns of hematologic tumor cell lines. Cancer Letters, 230: 134–140.

  11. Singh, R., Koppikar, S.J., Paul, P., Gilda, S., Paradkar, A.R., and Kaul-Ghanekar, R. (2009). Comparative analysis of cytotoxic effect of aqueous cinnamon extract from Cinnamomum zeylanicum bark with commercial cinnamaldehyde on various cell lines. Pharmaceutical Biology, 47: 1174–1179.


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