The effect of foliar application of salicylic acid (SA) at different concentrations (10-3 M and 10-5 M) was investigated on the production of secondary metabolites (flavonoids), chalcone synthase (CHS) activity, antioxidant activity and anticancer activity (against breast cancer cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) in two varieties of Malaysian ginger, namely Halia Bentong and Halia Bara. The results of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis showed that application of SA induced the synthesis of anthocyanin and fisetin in both varieties. Anthocyanin and fisetin were not detected in the control plants. Accordingly, the concentrations of some flavonoids (rutin and apigenin) decreased significantly in plants treated with different concentrations of SA. The present study showed that SA enhanced the chalcone synthase (CHS) enzyme activity (involving flavonoid synthesis) and recorded the highest activity value of 5.77 nkat /mg protein in Halia Bara with the 10-5 M SA treatment. As the SA concentration was decreased from 10-3 M to 10-5 M, the free radical scavenging power (FRAP) increased about 23% in Halia Bentong and 10.6% in Halia Bara. At a concentration of 350 μg mL-1, the DPPH antioxidant activity recorded the highest value of 58.30%-72.90% with the 10-5 M SA treatment followed by the 10-3 M SA (52.14%-63.66%) treatment. The lowest value was recorded in the untreated control plants (42.5%-46.7%). These results indicate that SA can act not only as an inducer but also as an inhibitor of secondary metabolites. Meanwhile, the highest anticancer activity against MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines was observed for H. Bara extracts treated with 10-5 M SA with values of 61.53 and 59.88%, respectively. The results suggest that the high anticancer activity in these varieties may be related to the high concentration of potent anticancer components including fisetin and anthocyanin. The results thus indicate that the synthesis of flavonoids in ginger can be increased by foliar application of SA in a controlled environment and that the anticancer activity in young ginger extracts could be improved.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.