Phytochemistry and biological activity of hot and sweet Capsicum species: A review
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Capsicum L. (Family: Solanaceae) is a genus of about thirty-eight species, distributed in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. Capsaicinoids and carotenoids are the main bioactive compounds, responsible for pungency (hotness) and colour of the fruits of Capsicum species. Traditionally, whole fruits of hot chili are used as a spice and that of sweet Capsicum as a fresh vegetable and salad. The fruits of hot peppers are the only known natural source of capsaicinoids, the unique alkaloids, responsible for pungency. The pungency of capsaicinoids has been reported due to presence of amide group but becomes non-pungent after the bioconversion of amide group to ester group leading to the formation of another group known as capsinoids. Both extracts and phytochemicals of the fruits are reported to possess antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, nutraceutical and pest-control activities. Although a number of reports have been published on various groups of chemical constituents and activities of Capsicum species, but no review has comprehensively summarised its traditional uses, phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology. The aim of this review is to provide a critical and comprehensive overview of traditional uses, phytochemistry, pharmacological activity and toxicological properties of both hot and sweet Capsicum species, so that these species can be utilized to develop value added products for human health and crop protection. Also, biosynthetic pathway of capsaicin, structures of different groups of compounds identified in the fruits of pungent and non-pungent Capsicum species and their chemical structure-activity relationship associated to the pungency are also discussed.
Capsicum, Capsinoids, Capsaicinoids, Biological activity, Pest control.