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Concept: Chili pepper


The evidence base for the health effects of spice consumption is insufficient, with only one large population-based study and no reports from Europe or North America. Our objective was to analyze the association between consumption of hot red chili peppers and mortality, using a population-based prospective cohort from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III, a representative sample of US noninstitutionalized adults, in which participants were surveyed from 1988 to 1994. The frequency of hot red chili pepper consumption was measured in 16,179 participants at least 18 years of age. Total and cause-specific mortality were the main outcome measures. During 273,877 person-years of follow-up (median 18.9 years), a total of 4,946 deaths were observed. Total mortality for participants who consumed hot red chili peppers was 21.6% compared to 33.6% for those who did not (absolute risk reduction of 12%; relative risk of 0.64). Adjusted for demographic, lifestyle, and clinical characteristics, the hazard ratio was 0.87 (P = 0.01; 95% Confidence Interval 0.77, 0.97). Consumption of hot red chili peppers was associated with a 13% reduction in the instantaneous hazard of death. Similar, but statistically nonsignificant trends were seen for deaths from vascular disease, but not from other causes. In this large population-based prospective study, the consumption of hot red chili pepper was associated with reduced mortality. Hot red chili peppers may be a beneficial component of the diet.

Concepts: Cohort study, Epidemiology, Medical statistics, Relative risk, Chili pepper, Black pepper, Cayenne pepper, Red Hot Chili Peppers


The genus Capsicum is New World in origin and represents a complex of a wide variety of both wild and domesticated taxa. Peppers or fruits of Capsicum species rarely have been identified in the paleoethnobotanical record in either Meso- or South America. We report here confirmation of Capsicum sp. residues from pottery samples excavated at Chiapa de Corzo in southern Mexico dated from Middle to Late Preclassic periods (400 BCE to 300 CE). Residues from 13 different pottery types were collected and extracted using standard techniques. Presence of Capsicum was confirmed by ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC)/MS-MS Analysis. Five pottery types exhibited chemical peaks for Capsicum when compared to the standard (dihydrocapsaicin). No peaks were observed in the remaining eight samples. Results of the chemical extractions provide conclusive evidence for Capsicum use at Chiapas de Corzo during a 700 year period (400 BCE-300 CE). Presence of Capsicum in different types of culinary-associated pottery raises questions how chili pepper could have been used during this early time period. As Pre-Columbian cacao products sometimes were flavored using Capsicum, the same pottery sample set was tested for evidence of cacao using a theobromine marker: these results were negative. As each vessel that tested positive for Capsicum had a culinary use we suggest here the possibility that chili residues from the Chiapas de Corzo pottery samples reflect either paste or beverage preparations for religious, festival, or every day culinary use. Alternatively, some vessels that tested positive merely could have been used to store peppers. Most interesting from an archaeological context was the presence of Capsicum residue obtained from a spouted jar, a pottery type previously thought only to be used for pouring liquids.

Concepts: Mexico, Capsicum, Capsaicin, Chili pepper, Black pepper, Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Mexican cuisine, Jalapeño


The use of cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) in F1 hybrid seed production of chili pepper is increasingly popular. However, the molecular mechanisms of cytoplasmic male sterility and fertility restoration remain poorly understood due to limited transcriptomic and genomic data. Therefore, we analyzed the difference between a CMS line 121A and its near-isogenic restorer line 121C in transcriptome level using next generation sequencing technology (NGS), aiming to find out critical genes and pathways associated with the male sterility.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Capsicum annuum, Capsicum, Chili pepper, Cytoplasmic male sterility, Cayenne pepper, Paprika, Jalapeño


The ghost pepper, or “bhut jolokia,” is one of the hottest chili peppers in the world. Ghost peppers have a measured “heat” of > 1,000,000 Scoville heat units (SHU), more than twice the strength of a habanero pepper. To our knowledge, no significant adverse effects of ghost pepper ingestion have been reported.

Concepts: Capsicum, Capsaicin, Chili pepper, Scoville scale, Cayenne pepper, Chili peppers, Bhut Jolokia pepper, Habanero chili


A number of factors likely affect the liking of capsaicin-containing foods such as social influences, repeated exposure to capsaicin, physiological differences in chemosensation, and personality. For example, it is well known that repeated exposure to capsaicin and chilies can result in chronic desensitization. Here, we explore the relationship between multiple personality variables - body awareness/consciousness, sensation seeking, and sensitivity to punishment, and sensitivity to reward - and the liking and consumption of capsaicin-containing foods. As expected, a strong relationship was found between liking of spicy foods and frequency of chili consumption. However, no association was observed between frequency of chili consumption and the perceived burn/sting of sampled capsaicin. Nor was there any association between perceived burn/sting of capsaicin and any of the personality measures. Private Body Consciousness did not relate to any of the measures used in the current study. Sensation Seeking showed positive correlations with the liking of spicy foods, but not non-spicy control foods. Sensitivity to Punishment showed no relation with frequency of chili consumption, and nonsignificant negative trends with liking of spicy foods. Conversely, Sensitivity to Reward was weakly though significantly correlated with the liking of a spicy meal, and similar nonsignificant trends were seen for other spicy foods. Frequency of chili consumption was positively associated with Sensation Seeking and Sensitivity to Reward. Present data indicate individuals who enjoy spicy foods exhibit higher Sensation Seeking and Sensitivity to Reward traits. Rather than merely showing reduced response to the irritating qualities of capsaicin as might be expected under the chronic desensitization hypothesis, these findings support the hypothesis that personality differences may drive differences in spicy food liking and intake.

Concepts: Scientific method, Food, Sense, Capsaicin, Chili pepper, Dissociative identity disorder, Black pepper, Spice


ABSTRACT A novel disease resistance inhibitor gene (inhibitor of P. capsici resistance [Ipcr]), found in the chile pepper (Capsicum annuum) variety ‘New Mexico Capsicum Accession 10399’ (NMCA10399), inhibits resistance to Phytophthora capsici but not to other species of Phytophthora. When a highly P. capsici-resistant variety was hybridized with NMCA10399, the resultant F1 populations, when screened, were completely susceptible to P. capsici for root rot and foliar blight disease syndromes, despite the dominance inheritance of P. capsici resistance in chile pepper. The F2 population displayed a 3:13 resistant-to-susceptible (R:S) ratio. The testcross population displayed a 1:1 R:S ratio, and a backcross population to NMCA10399 displayed complete susceptibility. These results demonstrate the presence of a single dominant inhibitor gene affecting P. capsici resistance in chile pepper. Moreover, when lines carrying the Ipcr gene were challenged against six Phytophthora spp., the nonhost resistance was not overcome. Therefore, the Ipcr gene is interfering with host-specific resistance but not the pathogen- or microbe-associated molecular pattern nonhost responses.

Concepts: Plant pathogens and diseases, Capsicum annuum, Capsicum, Chili pepper, Phytophthora capsici, Cayenne pepper, Paprika, Jalapeño


The national Capsicum germplasm bank of Peru at INIA holds a unique collection of more than 700 Capsicum accessions, including many landraces. These conserved accessions have never been thoroughly characterized or evaluated. Another smaller collection exists at UNALM, and CIDRA provided taxonomically characterized fruits from the Amazon region of Ucayali. Out of these collections, 147 accessions have been selected to represent the biodiversity of Peruvian C. annuum, C. baccatum, C. chinense and C. frutescens by morphological traits as well as by agronomic characteristics and regional origin. All fruits from the selected accessions have been oven-dried and grinded in Peru and analyzed in Germany. Results are reported for each accession by total capsaicinoids and capsaicinoid pattern, total polyphenol content, antioxidant capacity, specific flavonoids (quercetin, kaempferol, luteolin, apigenin), fat content, vitamin C, surface color and extractable color. A wide variability in phytochemical composition and concentration levels was found.

Concepts: Nutrition, Antioxidant, Amazon River, Flavonoid, Amazon Basin, Capsicum, Capsaicin, Chili pepper


The chili pepper is a very important plant used worldwide as a vegetable, as a spice, and as an external medicine. In this work, eight different varieties of Capsicum annuum L. have been characterized by their capsaicinoids content. The chili pepper fruits were cultivated in the Comarca Lagunera region in North of Mexico. The qualitative and quantitative determination of the major and minor capsaicinoids; alkaloids responsible for the pungency level, has been performed by a validated chromatographic procedure (HPLC-DAD) after a preliminary drying step and an opportune extraction procedure. Concentrations of total capsaicinoids varied from a not detectable value for Bell pepper to 31.84 mg g-1 dried weight for Chiltepín. Samples were obtained from plants grown in experimental field and in greenhouse without temperature control, in order to evaluate temperature effect. Analysis of the two principal capsaicinoids in fruits showed that the amount of dihydrocapsaicin was always higher than capsaicin. In addition, our results showed that the content of total capsaicinoids for the varieties Serrano, Puya, Ancho, Guajillo and Bell pepper were increased with high temperature, while the content of total capsaicinoids and Scoville heat units (SHU) for the varieties De árbol and Jalapeño decreased. However, the pungency values found in this study were higher for all varieties analyzed than in other studies.

Concepts: Capsicum annuum, Capsicum, Capsaicin, Chili pepper, Scoville scale, Bell pepper, Pepper spray, Chili peppers


Metabolic endotoxemia originating from dysbiotic gut microbiota has been identified as a primary mediator for triggering the chronic low-grade inflammation (CLGI) responsible for the development of obesity. Capsaicin (CAP) is the major pungent bioactivator in chili peppers and has potent anti-obesity functions, yet the mechanisms linking this effect to gut microbiota remain obscure. Here we show that mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) supplemented with CAP exhibit lower levels of metabolic endotoxemia and CLGI associated with lower body weight gain. High-resolution responses of the microbiota were examined by 16S rRNA sequencing, short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) measurements, and phylogenetic reconstruction of unobserved states (PICRUSt) analysis. The results showed, among others, that dietary CAP induced increased levels of butyrate-producing Ruminococcaceae and Lachnospiraceae, while it caused lower levels of members of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-producing family S24_7. Predicted function analysis (PICRUSt) showed depletion of genes involved in bacterial LPS synthesis in response to CAP. We further identified that inhibition of cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) by CAP also contributes to prevention of HFD-induced gut barrier dysfunction. Importantly, fecal microbiota transplantation experiments conducted in germfree mice demonstrated that dietary CAP-induced protection against HFD-induced obesity is transferrable. Moreover, microbiota depletion by a cocktail of antibiotics was sufficient to block the CAP-induced protective phenotype against obesity, further suggesting the role of microbiota in this context. Together, our findings uncover an interaction between dietary CAP and gut microbiota as a novel mechanism for the anti-obesity effect of CAP acting through prevention of microbial dysbiosis, gut barrier dysfunction, and chronic low-grade inflammation.IMPORTANCE Metabolic endotoxemia due to gut microbial dysbiosis is a major contributor to the pathogenesis of chronic low-grade inflammation (CLGI), which primarily mediates the development of obesity. A dietary strategy to reduce endotoxemia appears to be an effective approach for addressing the issue of obesity. Capsaicin (CAP) is the major pungent component in red chili (genus Capsicum). Little is known about the role of gut microbiota in the anti-obesity effect of CAP. High-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that CAP significantly increased butyragenic bacteria and decreased LPS-producing bacteria (e.g., members of the S24-7 family) and LPS biosynthesis. By using antibiotics and microbiota transplantation, we prove that gut microbiota plays a causal role in dietary CAP-induced protective phenotype against high-fat-diet-induced CLGI and obesity. Moreover, CB1 inhibition was partially involved in the beneficial effect of CAP. Together, these data suggest that the gut microbiome is a critical factor for the anti-obesity effects of CAP.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Nutrition, Ribosomal RNA, Obesity, 16S ribosomal RNA, Capsicum, Chili pepper


Increased macrophage cholesterol efflux is considered to have anti-atherosclerotic effect counteracting cardiovascular disease. The principle pungent ingredient of the fruits of Piper nigrum, piperine, is identified in this study as a cholesterol efflux (ChE) inducer in THP-1-derived macrophages, and mechanisms underlying this effect are explored.

Concepts: Immune system, Atherosclerosis, Macrophage, Cardiovascular disease, Chili pepper, Black pepper