Bioactive Potential of Elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.): Antioxidant, Antimicrobial Activity, Bioaccessibility and Prebiotic Potential

by  Ioana Mariana Has  1, Teleky Bernadette-Emőke Teleky 2,3, Katalin Szabo 2,3, Elemer Simon 2,3, Floricuta Ranga  3, Zorita Maria Diaconeasa  3, Anamaria Lavinia Purza 4, Dan-Cristian Vodnar 2,3,*, Delia Mirela Titand 4,* and Maria Nitescu  5

1 Doctoral School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Oradea, 410087 Oradea, Romania
Institute of Life Sciences, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca, Calea Mănăştur 3-5, 400372 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
3 Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, 400372 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
4 Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Oradea, 410028 Oradea, Romania
5 Department of Preclinical–Complementary Sciences, University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila”, 050474 Bucharest, Romania
*Correspondence: (D.-C.V.); (D.M.T.)

Molecules 2023, 28, 3099.                                              Received: 24 February 2023 / Revised: 25 March 2023 / Accepted: 28 March 2023 / Published: 30 March 2023


Due to its abundance of physiologically active ingredients, one of the oldest medicinal
herbs, elderberry (EB) Sambucus nigra L., is beneficial for both therapeutic and dietary purposes. This
study determined the bioaccessibility of the phenolic compounds and the prebiotic potential of the
polyphenols from freeze-dried EB powder (FDEBP), along with the antioxidant and antimicrobial
activities of this extract. The most significant phenolic compounds in black EB are represented
by anthocyanins (41.8%), predominating cyanidin-sambubiosides and cyanidin-glucosides (90.1%
of the identified anthocyanins). The FRAP assay obtained the highest antioxidant activity value
(185 ± 0.18 μmol Fe2+/g DW). The most sensitive to the antimicrobial activity of the extract was
proven to be Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa had the lowest minimum inhibitory
concentration of 1.95 mg/mL. To determine the prebiotic potential of the polyphenols, the cell growth
of five probiotic strains (Lactobacillus plantarum, L. casei, L. rhamnosus, L. fermentum and Saccharomyces
boulardii) was tested. The influence on cell growth was positive for all five probiotic strains used.
Overall, the most significant increase (p < 0.05) was recorded at 1.5% FDEBP, on L. casei with a growth
index (GI) of 152.44%, very closely followed by GI at 0.5% and 1% concentrations. The stability of the
total phenolic compounds through simulated gastronitestinal digestion was increased (93%), and the
bioaccessibility was also elevated (75%).

Keywords: elderberry; polyphenols; bioaccessibility; gastrointestinal digestion; prebiotic potential

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