Corchorus olitorius L. which belongs to Tiliaceae family is a cultivated herbaceous plant highly consumed as traditional leafy vegetables in Benin. Extracts from samples of different morphotypes leaves of this species were analysed for their phytochemical compositions, antioxidant and cytotoxicity activities. On each sample extract, qualitative phytochemical tests were used to detect the presence of bioactive molecules and evaluate their cytotoxicity using brine shrimp lethality bioassay. Antioxidant activity was assessed using the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picryl-hydrazyl assay. Phytochemical screening revealed the presence of several phytochemical compounds in all samples of morphotypes studied but these have not a similar profile. Morphotypes with shiny rounded leaves have more phytochemicals (58% of phytochemicals compounds) than the other samples. Analysis of the potential antioxidant reveals a first category of morphotypes with high potential antioxidant capacity ranged from 27,859 to 32,985 mM EAA/g followed by second class of morphotype which ranged from 17,527 to 23,098 mM EAA/g . Regular consumption of C. olitorius such as varieties with rounded and non-shiny leaves, varieties with elongated and shiny leaves, varieties with red stems, varieties with elongated and non-shiny leaves with lateral lobes, would be useful for the treatment of various diseases induced by free radicals. The LC50 of morphotypes C. olitorius varies between 0.78 and 3.125 mg/ml indicating non toxicity. From this study, results justify the use of some morphotypes of C. olitorius in traditional medicine. Hence, these morphotypes are nutraceuticals leafy vegetables that must be promoted through development of food based products.
Key words: Phytochemical analysis, antioxidant activity, cytotoxic activity, Corchorus olitorius, morphotypes, Benin.
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