Fruits and vegetables are a good source of potentially biologically active compounds. Their regular consumption in the human diet can help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Plants produce additional chemical substances when subject to abiotic stress or infected by microorganisms. The phytochemical profile of spinach leaves (Spinacia oleracea L.), which is a vegetable with widely recognized health-promoting activity, has been affected by applying root hypoxic and re-oxygenation stress during plant growth. Leaf juice at different sampling times has been subject to liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MSn) analysis and tested on the human colorectal adenocarcinoma cell line HT29 by using the Comet assay. The cells were previously treated with H 2 O 2 to simulate the presence of an oxidative stress (as in colon cancer condition) and the leaf juice application resulted in a significant antioxidant and protective in vitro effect. The duration of the hypoxic/re-oxygenation stress imposed on the plant reflects the antioxidant leaf juice content. After hypoxic stress (24 hours) and reoxygenation (2 hours), we show a decrease (50%) of the relative abundance of the principal identified antioxidant molecules but a higher antioxidant activity of the spinach juice on HT29 cells (20%). Data shows a complex relation between plant growing conditions and the modulation of secondary metabolites content in leaf juice that results in different chemo-protective activities in colon cancer cells.
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