Mucuna pruriens (MP) is a legume with seeds that contain substantial amounts of 3, 4-dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine (L-DOPA; 3% to 7% dry weight). We examined the in vivo antioxidant activity of distilled-water extracts of steamed or fermented MP seeds in Caenorhabditis elegans to evaluate the potential use of MP as a functional food. Paraquat and thermal stress generate reactive oxygen species in C. elegans. Worms treated with MP extracts were exposed to acute stress with paraquat or lethal heat shock. The survival rate 3 days after the treatment was used to indicate the antioxidant activity of the MP extracts. Distilled-water extracts of steamed or fermented MP had significantly higher (P < 0.01) antioxidant activity than in the control (nematode standard media) in vivo. L-DOPA showed high 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH)-radical scavenging activity but did not contribute to the antioxidant activity of MP in vivo.
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