Profiling Metabolites and Biological Activities of Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum Linn.) Juice and Its Product Molasses via a Multiplex Metabolomics Approach

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Chemistry Department

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Sara E. Ali; Rania A. El Gedaily; Andrei Mocan; Mohamed Ali Farag; Hesham R. El-Seedi

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Research Article

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Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.) is an important perennial grass in the Poaceae family cultivated worldwide due to its economical and medicinal value. In this study, a combined approach using mass spectrometry (MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was employed for the large-scale metabolite profiling of sugarcane juice and its by-product molasses. The polyphenols were analysed via UPLC-UV-ESI-MS, whereas the primary metabolites such as sugars and organic and amino acids were profiled using NMR spectroscopy and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). UPLC/MS was more effective than NMR spectroscopy or GC/MS for determining differences among the metabolite compositions of the products. Under the optimized conditions, UPLC/MS led to the identification of 42 metabolites, including nine flavonoids, nine fatty acids, and two sterols. C/O Flavone glycosides were the main subclass detected, with tricin-7-O-deoxyhexosyl glucuronide being detected in sugarcane and molasses for the first time. Based on GC/MS analysis, disaccharides were the predominant species in the sugarcane juice and molasses, with sucrose accounting for 66% and 59%, respectively, by mass of all identified metabolites. The phenolic profiles of sugarcane and molasses were further investigated in relation to their in vitro antioxidant activities using free radical scavenging assays such as 2,2-Diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl free radical-scavenging ability (DPPH), Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP). In view of its higher total phenolic content (TPC) (196 ± 2.1 mg GAE/100 g extract) compared to that of sugarcane juice (93 ± 2.9 mg GAE/100 g extract), molasses exhibited a substantially higher antioxidant effect. Interestingly, both extracts were also found to inhibit α-glucosidase and α-amylase enzymes, suggesting a possible antihyperglycaemic effect. These findings suggest molasses may be a new source of natural antioxidants for functional foods.

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