Determination of Antioxidant Activity and Toxicity of Sambucus nigra Fruit Extract Using Alternative Methods

Mihaela Mirela Bratu1*, Elena Doroftei2, Ticuta Negreanu-Pirjol1, Corina Hostina1 and Sepp Porta3,4,5

1Ovidius University Constanta, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mamaia Av. 124, RO-900527 Constanta, Romania

2Ovidius University Constanta, Faculty of Biology, Mamaia Av. 124, RO-900527 Constanta, Romania
3Institute of Pathophysiology and Immunology, Medical University Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 2, AT-8036 Graz, Austria
4Institute of Applied Stress Research, AT-8111 Judendorf-Strassengel, Austria
5Theresian Military Academy, AT-2700 Wiener Neustadt, Austria

Article history:

Received July 2, 2011
Accepted April 4, 2012

Key words:

Sambucus nigra, photochemiluminescence, antioxidant capacity, mitotic index, phytotoxicity


The aim of the study is to measure the in vitro antioxidant activity of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) fruit extract and to study its toxicity in a plant model system with regard to its possible application in food and agricultural industry. The antioxidant capacity of Sambucus nigra fruit powder was quantified by a photochemiluminescence method. The study of phytotoxicity of aqueous solutions of powder extract was performed using Allium cepa as a test organism. Photochemiluminescence determinations showed a very high antioxidant capacity of the product but also revealed its cytotoxic effect, along with mitodepressive activity and even inhibiton of mitosis at the preprophase stage when the fruit extract was used at higher concentrations. Aqueous solutions of the fruit powder have a reasonably expressed mutagenic activity in vivo on the radicles of Allium cepa, especially when they are used at a concentration of 1 g/dL for a prolonged time (48 h). At lower concentrations (0.1 g/dL), however, the mutagenic effect was not observed any more. The conclusion of our study is that Sambucus nigra fruit extract powder has a very high in vitro antioxidant activity and no mutagenic effects at low concentrations, which makes it recommendable for applications in the food industry.


*Corresponding author:,

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