Planta Med 2017; 83(14/15): 1176-1183
DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-109002
Biological and Pharmacological Activity
Original Papers
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Saffron Flower Extract Promotes Scratch Wound Closure of Keratinocytes and Enhances VEGF Production[*]

Sheela Verjee
1   Institute for Pharma Technology, School of Life Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Muttenz, Switzerland
Eliane Garo
2   Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Sarah Pelaez
1   Institute for Pharma Technology, School of Life Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Muttenz, Switzerland
Orlando Fertig
2   Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Matthias Hamburger
2   Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Veronika Butterweck
1   Institute for Pharma Technology, School of Life Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Muttenz, Switzerland
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

received 23 January 2017
revised 25 March 2017

accepted 06 April 2017

Publication Date:
20 April 2017 (online)


During saffron (Crocus sativus) spice production, large amounts of floral biowaste are generated. It was the aim of this study to develop a value-added product from saffron floral biowaste to be used as a natural cosmetic ingredient. HPLC-PDA-MS analysis of saffron flower extracts revealed the presence of flavonols with the highest amounts in the acetone extract. Kaempferol-3-O-sophoroside was identified as the main flavonoid in the acetone extract (saffron flower acetone extract). Saffron flower acetone extract and kaempferol-3-O-sophoroside were tested in HaCaT cells for potential effects on cell migration, proliferation, and for anti-inflammatory properties. Saffron flower acetone extract concentration dependently (50–200 µg/mL) augmented cell proliferation, as indicated by an increased BrdU-incorporation, while kaempferol-3-O-sophoroside (1–50 µM) had no effect. Furthermore, treatment of HaCaT cells with saffron flower acetone extract, but not with kaempferol-3-O-sophoroside, concentration-dependently increased vascular endothelial growth factor secretion (control 49.72 pg/mL vs. saffron flower acetone extract at 200 µg/mL 218.60 pg/mL). Cell migration was determined using time-lapse microscopy and a modification of the scratch-wound assay in which saffron flower acetone extract significantly improved wound closure compared to the untreated control. Overproduction of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-8 and interleukin-6 in HaCaT cells was induced by TNF-α. Kaempferol-3-O-sophoroside (10–50 µM), but not saffron flower acetone extract, inhibited TNF-α-induced IL-8 secretion. The effect was comparable to 10 µM hydrocortisone (positive control). Interestingly, saffron flower acetone extract further increased IL-6 levels in TNF-α-treated HaCaT cells in a concentration-dependent manner. In summary, the pronounced wound healing properties of saffron flower acetone extract present a promising application for the cosmetic industry.

* Dedicated to Professor Dr. Max Wichtl in recognition of his outstanding contribution to pharmacognosy research.

Supporting Information

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