UHPLC-HRMS Analysis of Fagus sylvatica (Fagaceae) Leaves : A Renewable Source of Antioxidant Polyphenols
European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) is a deciduous tree, widely distributed in Europe and largely appreciated for its wood and nutritive nuts. Beech leaf also enjoys food use as salad, but an understanding of its nutraceutical value is still far from being achieved. Indeed, and also taking into account beech leaf as a consistent biomass residue available beechwood production and use, it needs to be explored as a valuable renewable specialized source of bioactive molecules. In this context, an untargeted ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography hyphenated with high resolution mass spectrometry (UHPLC-HRMS) approach was favorably applied to a beech leaf alcoholic extract, which also was evaluated for its antiradical capability (by means of assays based on 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and [2,2'-azinobis-(3-ethylbenzothiazolin-6-sulfonic acid)] (ABTS) radical cation) and its ferric ion reducing power. Redox mitochondrial activity towards Caco-2 cells paved the way to explore the extract's capability to inhibit intracellular Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) using 2',7'dichlorofluorescin diacetate (DCFH-DA) assay. Hydroxycinnamoyl derivatives, mainly belonging to the chlorogenic acid class, and flavonoids were the main constituents. Uncommon flavanone C-glycosides were also found, together with a plentiful flavonol diversity. Cell-free and cell-based assays highlight its dose-dependent antioxidant efficacy, providing a foundation for further investigation of beech leaf constituents and its valorization and use as a reservoir of bioactive natural products with potential nutraceutical applications.