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Nutraceutical Properties of Bioactive Peptides in Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)

Published Date: January 09, 2017

Nutraceutical Properties of Bioactive Peptides in Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)

Heredia-Rodríguez L1, de la Garza AL1, Garza-Juarez AJ1, and Vazquez-Rodriguez JA1,2,3*

1Center for Research and Development in Health Sciences, Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico

2Center for Research in Nutrition and Public Health, Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico

3Faculty of Public Health and Nutrition, Monterrey, Mexico

*Corresponding author: Jesus Alberto Vazquez-Rodriguez, Center for Research and Development in Health Sciences, Center for Research in Nutrition and Public Health, Faculty of Public Health and Nutrition, San Nicolás de Los Garza, N.L., Mexico, E-mail:

Citation: Heredia-Rodríguez L, de la Garza AL, Garza-Juarez AJ, Vazquez-Rodriguez JA (2016) Nutraceutical Properties of Bioactive Peptides in Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). J Food Nutri Diete 2(1): 111.

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Recently, the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) has been considered as a nutraceutical because of the presence of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, resistant starch, oligosaccharides, and bioactive peptides. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the study of bioactive peptides from the proteolytic degradation of this legume. Beans are an economical source of these bioactive agents that have been associated with regulatory functions in the human system and biological activities that promote health. There have been various studies on bioactive peptides showing antihypertensive, anticancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.  In this context, the use of these bioactive peptides as ingredients or supplements in the development of new healthy foods can be an alternative approach for the treatment of diverse chronic diseases. Therefore, this review shows current data on the bioactive peptides from common bean and their biological properties.

Keywords: Nutraceutical; Bioactive Peptides; Common Bean; Bioactivity


ACE: Angiotensin-converting Enzyme; BHT: Butylated Hydroxytoluene; BHA: Butylated Hydroxyanisole; COX-2: Cyclooxygenase-2; PGE2: Prostaglandin E2; NOS: Nitric Oxide Synthase; WHO: World Health Organization.

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Several compounds present in legume seeds are included in the category of "nutraceutical". Nutraceutical is a concept where "nutrition" and "pharmaceutical" are combined. The definition of the nutraceutical is "food or parts of a food that provide medical or health benefits, including prevention of diseases" [1].

Phaseolus vulgaris L., (named “common bean” in the following text) is a legume extensively consumed around the world. Around 23 million tons were produced in the world (2012 data) and the largest consuming region is South America (9.3 kg/capita/year) [2]. In recent decades, the common bean has been observed as a nutraceutical because it contains a bulk of bioactive compounds. These nutraceutical compounds are polyphenols (associated to hull and cotyledon), resistant starch (native and processed made), oligosaccharides, non-digestible fraction and bioactive peptides, above all [3].

Nowadays, several studies have concentrated on the elucidation of the structure and functionality of different bioactive peptides from the common bean. These amino acid sequences present nutritional properties and physiological functions [4]. The amino acid sequence conforming the bioactive peptides is inactive within the precursor protein, but once the peptides are released, they can perform different biological activities that promote health in the cardiovascular system, and regulating some inflammatory processes, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, among others [5-7]. In this context, the review focus on peptides identified in different varieties of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) with bioactivity or nutraceutical properties.

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Common Bean Peptides and Biological Effects


Legume proteins such as the common bean are a source of bioactive peptides that exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has been reported that they inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells and reduce blood pressure, once they are released through proteolysis during enzymatic digestion of the precursor protein, either in vitro or in the digestive tract (in vivo) [4,8]. The biological potential of peptides is basically associated with their ability to interact with the amino acids of enzymes involved in the pathophysiology of major diseases inhibiting its action [9].

The beneficial effects reported for these peptides are antihypertensive, antidiabetic, anticancer effects, among others. These properties are mainly due to different biological activities such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), inhibition of dipeptidyl peptidase IV, α-glucosidase release, vasoactive substances, anti-proliferative activity in cancer cells, inhibition of α-amylase and stimulation of glucose uptake (Table 1).


Table 1: Bioactive peptides identified in different varieties of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). (*the peptides were obtained by affinity chromatography process).

Table 1: Bioactive peptides identified in different varieties of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). (*the peptides were obtained by affinity chromatography process).


Anti-hypertensive effects

Peptides with antihypertensive activity are the most studied using in vitro models, due to the severe public health problem that hypertension represents. Cardiovascular diseases, with aging and obesity, are the principal causes of death in the world, estimating 23.6 million of deaths by 2030 [5]. One of the mechanisms linked to hypertension is the dysregulation of proteolytic activity of the renin-angiotensin system, in detail the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). ACE breaks the C-terminal dipeptide of Angiotensin I (Ang-I) and converts it to angiotensin II (Ang-II), which is the main active component of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and inhibits the vasodilator peptide bradykinin; it also causes volume expansion through sodium retention by aldosterone pathways and renal vasoconstriction. Angiotensin II is a potent vasoconstrictor [26,27], acting on vascular smooth muscle cells as well as in the sympathetic nervous system, increasing the vascular tone. The activities of angiotensin II are mediated by the AT 1 receptors, which are involved in the activation of detrimental effects, causing vasoconstriction; AT2 receptors, on the other hand, cause beneficial effects on the body, causing vasodilation [28]. The conventional methods for treating hypertension that many physicians use are ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). The first drug to demonstrate ACE inhibitory capacity was Captopril synthesized by Ondetti et al. [29], which prevents the conversion of Ang-I to Ang-II. It should be mentioned that drugs used to inhibit ACE, such as Captopril may cause side effects. Because of this, there is an interest in identifying ACE inhibitory peptides in foods as natural sources of ACE inhibitors, like the antihypertensive peptides. Since the 1970s, inhibition of ACE by bioactive peptides has been studied [30], concluding that the inhibition is competitive since the inhibitors bind to the enzyme in the same way that it binds to the substrate. Likewise, the last three amino acid residues of the C-terminal group, for both substrates and inhibitors, have taken on importance. Regarding the inhibitors, it has been observed that all have a proline residue (P) in the penultimate position of the molecule of the C-terminal group. However, this is not a rule for establishing that antihypertensive peptides owe their activity to this amino acid, since different peptide sequences have been isolated and identified that are likewise capable of inhibiting ACE, however, they present hydrophobic amino acid residues, such as aromatic and branched amino acids, in their C-terminal group [31]. Bioactive peptides with potential ACE inhibitor, reduce in an indirect way the level of angiotensin II, applying a vasodilator effect that, in patients with heart failure, have the potential to significantly reduce morbidity and mortality [32].

Antioxidant effects

The antioxidant activity of bioactive peptides from dietary sources like those of the common beans increases the physiological effectiveness in reducing the risk of developing diseases caused by oxidative stress [33]. There are some factors that give bioactive peptides with their antioxidant properties. These peptides can exert antioxidant effects similar to synthetic antioxidant compounds such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) or butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), due to the functional groups of the amino acids present in the sequence [6]. In this context, hydrophilic, aromatic and basic amino acids containing phenolic groups, indole, and imidazole, acts as proton donors to stabilize free radicals [34]. The size of the peptides also plays a key role in the antioxidant activity. It has been reported that peptides of smaller molecular size (< 1 kDa) can contribute to increasing the antioxidant capacity, because of the higher probability of containing in both N-terminal and C-terminal, residues of the amino acids mentioned before [35]. Finally, the antioxidant capacity can be increased by the induction of antioxidant enzymes by endogenous antioxidant defense systems on the exposure to harmful stimuli, such as plagues or hydric stress [36].

In homeostatic circumstances, the antioxidant defense system can scavenge excess level of reactive oxygen species, through antioxidant enzymes, such as catalase and superoxide dismutase, as well as non-enzymatic systems, such as glutathione, antioxidant vitamins, coenzymes, trace elements, among others. Nevertheless, occasionally this antioxidant defense system may fail or be deficient to protect the system from free radicals that are generated under normal conditions in the body. In this context, bioactive peptides have beneficial effects in terms of antioxidant defense, showing the ability of chelating ions, scavenging or neutralizing free radicals, quenching oxygen or donating hydrogen. Because of this, bioactive peptides can lower the lipid autoxidation process; act as heavy metal ions acceptors and scavengers of free radicals, and being involved in anti-inflammatory processes stimulated by excessive reactive oxygen species [37].

Therefore, bioactive peptides can be considered as an innocuous alternative to synthetic antioxidants to prevent diseases associated with oxidative damage (Not for food additives).

Anti-cancer effects

Recently, there is growing interested in the study of the development of new therapies against cancer with dietary compounds with genotoxic potential protective effect, such as peptides derived from the common bean alternatives. In this context, the amino acid sequences have a high affinity and specificity, and low toxicity in contrast to most drugs [38,39]. Common bean consumption has been associated with a reduced incidence of various cancers [19–21].

The effectiveness to inhibit tumor cells with peptides differs depending on the cell types, culture conditions, and treatment conditions. The inhibition mechanisms of peptides are an induction of extrinsic apoptosis [40], induction of chromatin condensation [41], and inhibition of inflammatory processes, extremely related to tumor growth progression [42]. Since inflammation and cancer are closely linked, it has been shown that chronic inflammation predisposes to different types of cancer. Inflammatory mediators and chemokines are involved in cell migration, invasion, and metastasis of malignant cells [43]. Therefore, the suppression of the inflammatory pathways either in transcriptional or translational levels can be used as an alternative approach for both prevention and treatment of cancer [44]. For example, it has been reported that hydrolysates of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) from varieties Negro 8025 and Pinto Durango, inhibited inflammation in lipopolysaccharide-induced macrophages through suppression of NF-κB pathways, these hydrolysates also inhibited inflammatory markers such as cuclooxygenase-2 expression, prostaglandin E2 production, inducible nitric oxide synthase expression, and nitric oxide production. Finally, hydrolysates inhibited the transactivation of NF- κBin LPS-stimulated macrophages [10].

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The production of functional hydrolysates containing peptides from legumes, such as common bean, provided an opportunity to the development of new therapeutic strategies in the prevention and treatment of metabolic diseases. The common bean is a good alternative as a source of low-cost production. In this context, a valuable approach of this legume is the application in the design of new healthy foods in order to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases. Therefore, the bioactive peptides of beans can be used as ingredients in functional foods or supplements. However, further research would be necessary with respect to joining controlled systems, for example, nano-encapsulation or micro and nano fibers or addition complexes, etc. The use of bioactive peptides from the common bean in the treatment and prevention of several diseases is an alternative with great potential for exploitation; however, more research is needed on the role of these compounds in the treatment of hypertension and cancer.

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We thank PRODEP (Programa para el Desarrollo Profesional Docente), for the financial support for the development of this work. Also we acknowledge “CONACYT (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología – México)” for the grant awarded to Laura Heredia-Rodríguez.

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Conflict of Interest


The authors declare there are no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright: © 2016 Heredia-Rodríguez L, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.