Carpobrotus edulis (L.) N.E.Br. extract as a skin preserving agent: from traditional medicine to scientific validation.
Objective: Carpobrotus edulis (L.) N.E.Br. is a succulent perennial plant native to South Africa and grows invasively in the Mediterranean basin. It is commonly used for the treatment of various diseases, including skin wound healing and regeneration, for which experimental validation is lacking. We therefore evaluated the skin healing properties by testing a C. edulis aqueous leaf extract (CAE) on cell cultures and in enzymatic assays. Methods: Micro-morphological analysis of leaves was carried out using scanning electron microscopy and light microscopy. Phytochemical features and antioxidant activity of CAE were evaluated by reversed-phase liquid chromatography coupled with diode array detection and electrospray ion trap mass spectrometry (RP-LC-DAD-ESI-MS), and in vitro cell-free assays. Biological activities were evaluated using keratinocytes and fibroblasts, as well as elastase, collagenase, and hyaluronidase. Results: CAE showed high carbohydrates (28.59% ± 0.68%), total phenols ([101.9 ± 6.0] g gallic acid equivalents/kg dry extract [DE]), and flavonoids ([545.9 ± 26.0] g rutin equivalents/kg DE). RP-LC-DAD-ESI-MS revealed the predominant presence of hydroxycinnamic acids (51.96%), followed by tannins (14.82%) and flavonols (11.32%). The extract was not cytotoxic, had a strong and dose-dependent antioxidant activity, and inhibited collagenase (> 90% at 500 µg/mL) and hyaluronidase (100% at 1000 µg/mL). In cell culture experiments, CAE increased wound closure and collagen production, which was consistent with its high polyphenol content. Conclusion: Our data support the use of the C. edulis for skin care and the treatment of skin problems. Moreover, use of C. edulis for skin care purposes could be an eco-friendly solution to reduce its invasiveness in the environment.