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Special Issue "Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Pharmacology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Raffaele Capasso
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultiral Science, Universita degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Naples, Italy
Interests: pharmacology; natural products; neurotransmission; behavioral pharmacology; experimental pharmacology; preclinical pharmacology; CB1 receptor; PPARs; cannabinoids; endocannabinoids; CB2 receptor
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Rafael Cypriano Dutra
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Campus Araranguá, Araranguá, Brazil
Interests: neuroimmunology; neuroinflammation; immunopharmacology; immune-mediated inflammatory disease; autoimmune diseases; inflammatory and neuropathic pain; natural products; phytocannabinoids; cannabimetic agents; cannabinoid receptors; preclinical pharmacology; behavioral pharmacology
Dr. Elisabetta Caiazzo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
Interests: the role of adenosine signaling in the modulation of inflammatory processes; the identification of molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying hemaostasis alteration in inflammation; the study of medicinal plants and active ingredients with anti-inflammatory effects

Special Issue Information

Medicinal plants have been used as traditional medicines, modern botanical medicines, and food supplements for the treatment or prevention of a variety of diseases and to provide benefits to human health. In fact, they have been shown to have many different biological activities, including antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer activity. In recent years, the interest in medicinal plants and their active compounds has increased for several reasons (for example, they produce fewer accumulation problems and they are better tolerated than synthetic drugs). The purpose of this Special Issue is to promote this renewed interest in medicinal plants by highlighting the potential biological activities of medicinal plants and/or specific compounds isolated from them and their current and potential future applications. In particular, studies that use herbs as adjuvants or attenuators of side effects in currently used treatments, studies that describe synergies between herbs and currently used drugs, and studies that describe herb–herb interactions and herb–drug interactions are welcome.

Prof. Dr. Raffaele Capasso
Prof. Dr. Rafael Cypriano Dutra
Dr. Elisabetta Caiazzo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • medicinal plants
  • biological activity
  • molecular mechanisms
  • medical use
  • plant side effects
  • pharmacological interactions

Published Papers (23 papers)

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Research

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Article
Dihydroisotanshinone I as a Treatment Option for Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinomas
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(16), 8881; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22168881 - 18 Aug 2021
Viewed by 348
Abstract
Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) are the most common cancers of the head and neck, and their prevalence is rapidly increasing. HNSCCs present a clinical challenge because of their high recurrence rate, therapeutic resistance to radiation and chemotherapy drugs, and adverse [...] Read more.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) are the most common cancers of the head and neck, and their prevalence is rapidly increasing. HNSCCs present a clinical challenge because of their high recurrence rate, therapeutic resistance to radiation and chemotherapy drugs, and adverse effects. Hence, traditional Chinese herbal treatment may be advantageous to therapeutic strategies for HNSCCs. Danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza), a well-known Chinese herb, has been extensively applied in treatments for various diseases, including cancer, because of its high degree of safety and low rate of adverse effects despite its unclear mechanism. Thus, we aimed to explore the possible anticancer effects and mechanisms of dihydroisotanshinone I (DT), a compound in danshen (extract from danshen), on HNSCCs. Three HNSCCs cell lines were used for in vitro studies, and a Detroit 562 xenograft mouse model was chosen for in vivo studies. Our in vitro results showed that DT could initiate apoptosis, resulting in cell death, and the p38 signaling partially regulated DT-initiated cell apoptosis in the Detroit 562 model. In the xenograft mouse model, DT reduced tumor size with no obvious adverse effect of hepatotoxicity. The present study suggests that DT is a promising novel candidate for anti-HNSCCs therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Gene-Metabolite Network Analysis Revealed Tissue-Specific Accumulation of Therapeutic Metabolites in Mallotus japonicus
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(16), 8835; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22168835 - 17 Aug 2021
Viewed by 357
Abstract
Mallotus japonicus is a valuable traditional medicinal plant in East Asia for applications as a gastrointestinal drug. However, the molecular components involved in the biosynthesis of bioactive metabolites have not yet been explored, primarily due to a lack of omics resources. In this [...] Read more.
Mallotus japonicus is a valuable traditional medicinal plant in East Asia for applications as a gastrointestinal drug. However, the molecular components involved in the biosynthesis of bioactive metabolites have not yet been explored, primarily due to a lack of omics resources. In this study, we established metabolome and transcriptome resources for M. japonicus to capture the diverse metabolite constituents and active transcripts involved in its biosynthesis and regulation. A combination of untargeted metabolite profiling with data-dependent metabolite fragmentation and metabolite annotation through manual curation and feature-based molecular networking established an overall metabospace of M. japonicus represented by 2129 metabolite features. M. japonicus de novo transcriptome assembly showed 96.9% transcriptome completeness, representing 226,250 active transcripts across seven tissues. We identified specialized metabolites biosynthesis in a tissue-specific manner, with a strong correlation between transcripts expression and metabolite accumulations in M. japonicus. The correlation- and network-based integration of metabolome and transcriptome datasets identified candidate genes involved in the biosynthesis of key specialized metabolites of M. japonicus. We further used phylogenetic analysis to identify 13 C-glycosyltransferases and 11 methyltransferases coding candidate genes involved in the biosynthesis of medicinally important bergenin. This study provides comprehensive, high-quality multi-omics resources to further investigate biological properties of specialized metabolites biosynthesis in M. japonicus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
6-Gingerol, a Major Constituent of Zingiber officinale Rhizoma, Exerts Anticonvulsant Activity in the Pentylenetetrazole-Induced Seizure Model in Larval Zebrafish
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(14), 7745; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22147745 - 20 Jul 2021
Viewed by 533
Abstract
Zingiber officinale is one of the most frequently used medicinal herbs in Asia. Using rodent seizure models, it was previously shown that Zingiber officinale hydroethanolic extract exerts antiseizure activity, but the active constituents responsible for this effect have not been determined. In this [...] Read more.
Zingiber officinale is one of the most frequently used medicinal herbs in Asia. Using rodent seizure models, it was previously shown that Zingiber officinale hydroethanolic extract exerts antiseizure activity, but the active constituents responsible for this effect have not been determined. In this paper, we demonstrated that Zingiber officinale methanolic extract exerts anticonvulsant activity in the pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-induced hyperlocomotion assay in larval zebrafish. Next, we isolated 6-gingerol (6-GIN)—a major constituent of Zingiber officinale rhizoma. We observed that 6-GIN exerted potent dose-dependent anticonvulsant activity in the PTZ-induced hyperlocomotion seizure assay in zebrafish, which was confirmed electroencephalographically. To obtain further insight into the molecular mechanisms of 6-GIN antiseizure activity, we assessed the concentration of two neurotransmitters in zebrafish, i.e., inhibitory γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and excitatory glutamic acid (GLU), and their ratio after exposure to acute PTZ dose. Here, 6-GIN decreased GLU level and reduced the GLU/GABA ratio in PTZ-treated fish compared with only PTZ-bathed fish. This activity was associated with the decrease in grin2b, but not gabra1a, grin1a, gria1a, gria2a, and gria3b expression in PTZ-treated fish. Molecular docking to the human NR2B-containing N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor suggests that 6-GIN might act as an inhibitor and interact with the amino terminal domain, the glutamate-binding site, as well as within the ion channel of the NR2B-containing NMDA receptor. In summary, our study reveals, for the first time, the anticonvulsant activity of 6-GIN. We suggest that this effect might at least be partially mediated by restoring the balance between GABA and GLU in the epileptic brain; however, more studies are needed to prove our hypothesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
ROS-Mediated Anti-Tumor Effect of Coptidis Rhizoma against Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma Hep3B Cells and Xenografts
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(9), 4797; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22094797 - 30 Apr 2021
Viewed by 709
Abstract
Coptidis Rhizoma is the dried rhizome from the Coptis chinensis Franch. that has been shown to have a number of beneficial pharmacological properties including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects. However, the anti-cancer effects of Coptidis Rhizoma on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain unclear. In [...] Read more.
Coptidis Rhizoma is the dried rhizome from the Coptis chinensis Franch. that has been shown to have a number of beneficial pharmacological properties including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects. However, the anti-cancer effects of Coptidis Rhizoma on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain unclear. In this study, we investigated the anti-cancer properties of Coptidis Rhizoma ethanol extract (CR) in HCC Hep3B cells and in a xenograft mouse model. Our results showed that the CR significantly inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis in Hep3B cells through increased expression of Bcl-2 associated x-protein (Bax) and cleavage of poly-ADP ribose polymerase (PARP), reduced expression of Bcl-2, and activated caspases. CR also increased the generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), which caused a loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP, ΔΨm) and activation of the mitochondria-mediated intrinsic apoptosis pathway. Moreover, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a ROS inhibitor, markedly blocked the effects of CR on apoptotic pathways. CR also induced the expression of light chain 3 (LC3)-I/II, a key autophagy regulator, whereas CR-mediated autophagy was significantly suppressed by NAC. In addition, pre-treatment with NAC perfectly attenuated the inhibition of cell invasion and migration of CR-stimulated Hep3B cells. Furthermore, oral administration of CR suppressed Hep3B tumor growth in xenograft mice without toxicity, alterations to body weight, or changes in hematological and biochemical profiles. Taken together, our findings suggest that CR has anti-tumor effects that result from ROS generation, and may be a potential pharmacological intervention for HCC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Biologically Active Compounds in Stizolophus balsamita Inflorescences: Isolation, Phytochemical Characterization and Effects on the Skin Biophysical Parameters
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(9), 4428; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22094428 - 23 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 464
Abstract
Three germacranolides, as well as five flavonoids, natural steroid and simple phenolic compounds, were isolated from the inflorescence of Stizolophus balsamita growing in Iran. The paper presents active compounds found for the first time in the inflorescence of this species. The flavonoids, simple [...] Read more.
Three germacranolides, as well as five flavonoids, natural steroid and simple phenolic compounds, were isolated from the inflorescence of Stizolophus balsamita growing in Iran. The paper presents active compounds found for the first time in the inflorescence of this species. The flavonoids, simple phenolic compounds and natural steroids have been isolated for the first time in the genus Stizolophus. The MTT assay was employed to study in vitro cytotoxic effects of the taxifolin against human fibroblasts. We also evaluate the possible biological properties/cosmetic effects of Stizolophus balsamita extract and taxifolin on the human skin. Sixty healthy Caucasian adult females with no dermatological diseases were investigated. We evaluate the effects of S. balsamita extract and taxifolin on skin hydration and transepidermal water loss (TEWL). It was revealed that S. balsamita extract might decrease TEWL level and fixed the barrier function of the epidermis. The presence of bioactive phytochemical constituents in S. balsamita inflorescences makes them a valuable and safe source for creating new cosmetics and medicines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Pharmacological Effects of Guava (Psidium guajava L.) Seed Polysaccharides: GSF3 Inhibits PC-3 Prostate Cancer Cell Growth through Immunotherapy In Vitro
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(7), 3631; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22073631 - 31 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 643
Abstract
The inhibitory effects of purified fractions isolated from guava seed polysaccharides (GSPS) including guava seed polysaccharide fraction 1 (GSF1), GSF2, and GSF3 on prostate cancer cells remain unclear. To clarify the anti-prostate cancer potential, GSPS, GSF1, GSF2, and GSF3 were isolated using Sepharose [...] Read more.
The inhibitory effects of purified fractions isolated from guava seed polysaccharides (GSPS) including guava seed polysaccharide fraction 1 (GSF1), GSF2, and GSF3 on prostate cancer cells remain unclear. To clarify the anti-prostate cancer potential, GSPS, GSF1, GSF2, and GSF3 were isolated using Sepharose 6B gel filtration chromatography to assay their inhibitory effects on prostate PC-3 cell growth with direct action or indirect immunotherapy using either splenocyte conditioned media (SCM) or macrophage conditioned media (MCM). Correlations between cytokine profiles in the conditioned media and pro-apoptotic gene expression levels in the corresponding treated PC-3 cells were analyzed. Results showed that GSPS, GSF1, GSF2, and GSF3, particularly GSF3, through either direct action or indirect treatments using SCM or MCM, significantly (p < 0.05) inhibited PC-3 cell growth. GSF3 direct treatments increased pro-apoptotic Bax/anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 mRNA expression ratios in corresponding treated PC-3 cells. Either SCM or MCM cultured with GSF3 increased Fas mRNA expression levels in corresponding treated PC-3 cells. Both Th2-polarized and anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 either secreted in SCM or MCM were positively correlated with Fas mRNA expression levels in corresponding treated PC-3 cells. Our results suggest that GSF3 is a potent biological response modifier to decrease PC-3 cell growth through inducing apoptosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
The Main Alkaloids in Uncaria rhynchophylla and Their Anti-Alzheimer’s Disease Mechanism Determined by a Network Pharmacology Approach
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(7), 3612; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22073612 - 31 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1321
Abstract
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a growing concern in modern society, and effective drugs for its treatment are lacking. Uncaria rhynchophylla (UR) and its main alkaloids have been studied to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as AD. This study aimed to uncover the key components [...] Read more.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a growing concern in modern society, and effective drugs for its treatment are lacking. Uncaria rhynchophylla (UR) and its main alkaloids have been studied to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as AD. This study aimed to uncover the key components and mechanism of the anti-AD effect of UR alkaloids through a network pharmacology approach. The analysis identified 10 alkaloids from UR based on HPLC that corresponded to 90 anti-AD targets. A potential alkaloid target-AD target network indicated that corynoxine, corynantheine, isorhynchophylline, dihydrocorynatheine, and isocorynoxeine are likely to become key components for AD treatment. KEGG pathway enrichment analysis revealed the Alzheimers disease (hsa05010) was the pathway most significantly enriched in alkaloids against AD. Further analysis revealed that 28 out of 90 targets were significantly correlated with Aβ and tau pathology. These targets were validated using a Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) dataset. Molecular docking studies were carried out to verify the binding of corynoxine and corynantheine to core targets related to Aβ and tau pathology. In addition, the cholinergic synapse (hsa04725) and dopaminergic synapse (hsa04728) pathways were significantly enriched. Our findings indicate that UR alkaloids directly exert an AD treatment effect by acting on multiple pathological processes in AD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Biomimetic Chromatographic Studies Combined with the Computational Approach to Investigate the Ability of Triterpenoid Saponins of Plant Origin to Cross the Blood–Brain Barrier
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(7), 3573; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22073573 - 30 Mar 2021
Viewed by 451
Abstract
Biomimetic (non-cell based in vitro) and computational (in silico) studies are commonly used as screening tests in laboratory practice in the first stages of an experiment on biologically active compounds (potential drugs) and constitute an important step in the research on the drug [...] Read more.
Biomimetic (non-cell based in vitro) and computational (in silico) studies are commonly used as screening tests in laboratory practice in the first stages of an experiment on biologically active compounds (potential drugs) and constitute an important step in the research on the drug design process. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the ability of triterpenoid saponins of plant origin to cross the blood–brain barrier (BBB) using both computational methods, including QSAR methodology, and biomimetic chromatographic methods, i.e., High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) with Immobilized Artificial Membrane (IAM) and cholesterol (CHOL) stationary phases, as well as Bio-partitioning Micellar Chromatography (BMC). The tested compounds were as follows: arjunic acid (Terminalia arjuna), akebia saponin D (Akebia quinata), bacoside A (Bacopa monnieri) and platycodin D (Platycodon grandiflorum). The pharmacokinetic BBB parameters calculated in silico show that three of the four substances, i.e., arjunic acid, akebia saponin D, and bacoside A exhibit similar values of brain/plasma equilibration rate expressed as logPSFubrain (the average logPSFubrain: −5.03), whereas the logPSFubrain value for platycodin D is –9.0. Platycodin D also shows the highest value of the unbound fraction in the brain obtained using the examined compounds (0.98). In these studies, it was found out for the first time that the logarithm of the analyte–micelle association constant (logKMA) calculated based on Foley’s equation can describe the passage of substances through the BBB. The most similar logBB values were obtained for hydrophilic platycodin D, applying both biomimetic and computational methods. All of the obtained logBB values and physicochemical parameters of the molecule indicate that platycodin D does not cross the BBB (the average logBB: −1.681), even though the in silico estimated value of the fraction unbound in plasma is relatively high (0.52). As far as it is known, this is the first paper that shows the applicability of biomimetic chromatographic methods in predicting the penetration of triterpenoid saponins through the BBB. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Moscatilin Inhibits Metastatic Behavior of Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells: A Crucial Role of uPA Suppression via Akt/NF-κB-Dependent Pathway
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(6), 2930; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22062930 - 13 Mar 2021
Viewed by 801
Abstract
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) frequently shows early invasion into blood vessels as well as intrahepatic metastasis. Innovations of novel small-molecule agents to block HCC invasion and subsequent metastasis are urgently needed. Moscatilin is a bibenzyl derivative extracted from the stems of a traditional Chinese [...] Read more.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) frequently shows early invasion into blood vessels as well as intrahepatic metastasis. Innovations of novel small-molecule agents to block HCC invasion and subsequent metastasis are urgently needed. Moscatilin is a bibenzyl derivative extracted from the stems of a traditional Chinese medicine, orchid Dendrobium loddigesii. Although moscatilin has been reported to suppress tumor angiogenesis and growth, the anti-metastatic property of moscatilin has not been elucidated. The present results revealed that moscatilin inhibited metastatic behavior of HCC cells without cytotoxic fashion in highly invasive human HCC cell lines. Furthermore, moscatilin significantly suppressed the activity of urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), but not matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9. Interestingly, moscatilin-suppressed uPA activity was through down-regulation the protein level of uPA, and did not impair the uPA receptor and uPA inhibitory molecule (PAI-1) expressions. Meanwhile, the mRNA expression of uPA was inhibited via moscatilin in a concentration-dependent manner. In addition, the expression of phosphorylated Akt, rather than ERK1/2, was inhibited by moscatilin treatment. The expression of phosphor-IκBα, and -p65, as well as κB-luciferase activity were also repressed after moscatilin treatment. Transfection of constitutively active Akt (Myr-Akt) obviously restored the moscatilin-inhibited the activation of NF-κB and uPA, and cancer invasion in HCC cells. Taken together, these results suggest that moscatilin impedes HCC invasion and uPA expression through the Akt/NF-κB signaling pathway. Moscatilin might serve as a potential anti-metastatic agent against the disease progression of human HCC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Limonoid Triterpene, Obacunone Increases Runt-Related Transcription Factor 2 to Promote Osteoblast Differentiation and Function
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(5), 2483; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22052483 - 02 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 779
Abstract
Root bark of Dictamnus dasycarpus Turcz. has been widely used as a traditional medicine and is a well-known anti-inflammatory agent. We isolated limonoid triterpene, obacunone (Obac) from the dried root bark of D. dasycarpus. Obac has been reported to exhibit varieties of [...] Read more.
Root bark of Dictamnus dasycarpus Turcz. has been widely used as a traditional medicine and is a well-known anti-inflammatory agent. We isolated limonoid triterpene, obacunone (Obac) from the dried root bark of D. dasycarpus. Obac has been reported to exhibit varieties of biological activities including anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-oxidant effects. This study aimed to investigate the beneficial effects and biological mechanisms of Obac in osteoblast differentiation and bone matrix mineralization. In the present study, Obac at concentrations ranging from 1 to 100 μM showed no proliferation effects in MC3T3-E1. The treatment of Obac (1 and 10 μM) increased wound healing and migration rates in a dose-dependent manner. Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) staining and activity showed that Obac (1 and 10 μM) enhanced early osteoblast differentiation in a dose-dependent manner. Obac also increased late osteoblast differentiation in a dose-dependent manner, as indicated by the mineralized nodule formation of ARS staining. The effects of Obac on osteoblast differentiation was validated by the levels of mRNAs encoding the bone differentiation markers, including Alp, bone sialoprotein (Bsp), osteopontin (Opn), and osteocalcin (Ocn). Obac increased the expression of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), and the phosphorylation of smad1/5/8, and the expression of runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2); Obac also inhibited GSK3β and upregulated the protein level of β-catenin in a dose-dependent manner during osteoblast differentiation. Obac-mediated osteoblast differentiation was attenuated by a BMP2 inhibitor, Noggin and a Wnt/β-catenin inhibitor, Dickkopf-1 (Dkk1) with the abolishment of RUNX2 expression and nuclear accumulation by Obac. Taken together, the findings of this study demonstrate that Obac has pharmacological and biological activates to promote osteoblast differentiation and bone mineralization through BMP2, β-catenin, and RUNX2 pathways, and suggest that Obac might be a therapeutic effect for the treatment and prevention of bone diseases such as osteoporosis and periodontitis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
The Responses of Bioactive Betanin Pigment and Its Derivatives from a Red Beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) Betalain-Rich Extract to Hypochlorous Acid
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(3), 1155; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22031155 - 25 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 853
Abstract
Neutrophils produce hypochlorous acid (HOCl) as well as other reactive oxygen species as part of a natural innate immune response in the human body; however, excessive levels of HOCl can ultimately be detrimental to health. Recent reports suggest that betacyanin plant pigments can [...] Read more.
Neutrophils produce hypochlorous acid (HOCl) as well as other reactive oxygen species as part of a natural innate immune response in the human body; however, excessive levels of HOCl can ultimately be detrimental to health. Recent reports suggest that betacyanin plant pigments can act as potent scavengers of inflammatory factors and are notably effective against HOCl. Comparison of the in vitro anti-hypochlorite activities of a novel betalain-rich red beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) extract with its pure betalainic pigments revealed that the extract had the highest anti-hypochlorite activity, far exceeding the activity of all of the betalainic derivatives and selected reference antioxidants. This suggests that it may be an important food-based candidate for management of inflammatory conditions induced by excessive HOCl production. Among all pigments studied, betanidin exhibited the highest activity across the pH range. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
The Antioxidant Capacity In Vitro and In Vivo of Polysaccharides From Bergenia emeiensis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(20), 7456; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21207456 - 09 Oct 2020
Viewed by 713
Abstract
Polysaccharides from Bergenia emeiensis (PBE) showed a robust antioxidant ability on scavenging free radicals in vitro. However, the further antioxidant potential in cell level and in vivo was still unknown. Therefore, in this present study, the protective effect of PBE on human cervical [...] Read more.
Polysaccharides from Bergenia emeiensis (PBE) showed a robust antioxidant ability on scavenging free radicals in vitro. However, the further antioxidant potential in cell level and in vivo was still unknown. Therefore, in this present study, the protective effect of PBE on human cervical carcinoma cell (Hela) cells and Caenorhabditis elegans against oxidative stress was evaluated. The results showed PBE could reduce the reactive oxygen species (ROS) level in Hela cells and promote the mitochondrial membrane potential. Then, the cell apoptosis was reduced. Moreover, PBE could enhance the survival of C. elegans under thermal stress to 13.44%, and significantly reduce the ROS level, which was connected with the overexpression of sod-3 and the increased nuclear localization of daf-16 transcription factor. Therefore, PBE exhibited a strong antioxidant capacity in the cellular level and for a whole organism. Thus, polysaccharides from B. emeiensis have natural potential to be a safe antioxidant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Combination Therapy with Cinnamaldehyde and Hyperthermia Induces Apoptosis of A549 Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma Cells via Regulation of Reactive Oxygen Species and Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Family
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(17), 6229; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21176229 - 28 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 809
Abstract
Lung cancer is the largest cause of cancer-induced deaths. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most frequently observed subtype of lung cancer. Although recent studies have provided many therapeutic options, there is still a need for effective and safe treatments. This paper [...] Read more.
Lung cancer is the largest cause of cancer-induced deaths. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most frequently observed subtype of lung cancer. Although recent studies have provided many therapeutic options, there is still a need for effective and safe treatments. This paper reports the combined effects of cinnamaldehyde (CNM), a flavonoid from cinnamon, together with hyperthermia, a therapeutic option for cancer treatment, on the A549 NSCLC cell line. A hyperthermia treatment of 43 °C potentiated the cytotoxicity of CNM in A549 cells. This was attributed to an increase in the apoptosis markers and suppression of the survival/protective factors, as confirmed by Western blot assays. Flow cytometry supported this result because the apoptotic profile, cell health profile, and cell cycle profile were regulated by CNM and hyperthermia combination therapy. The changes in reactive oxygen species (ROS) and its downstream target pathway, mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK), were evaluated. The CNM and hyperthermia combination increased the generation of ROS and MAPK phosphorylation. N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a ROS inhibitor, abolished the apoptotic events caused by CNM and hyperthermia co-treatment, suggesting that the cytotoxic effect was dependent of ROS signaling. Therefore, we suggest CNM and hyperthermia combination as an effective therapeutic option for the NSCLC treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
Induction of Callogenesis, Organogenesis, and Embryogenesis in Non-Meristematic Explants of Bleeding Heart and Evaluation of Chemical Diversity of Key Metabolites from Callus
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(16), 5826; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21165826 - 13 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 873
Abstract
Lamprocapnos spectabilis (L.) Fukuhara is a perennial plant species valued in the horticultural, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical markets. To date, however, there were no studies on tissue culture systems in this species when adjusted from non-meristematic explants. The aim of this study is to [...] Read more.
Lamprocapnos spectabilis (L.) Fukuhara is a perennial plant species valued in the horticultural, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical markets. To date, however, there were no studies on tissue culture systems in this species when adjusted from non-meristematic explants. The aim of this study is to induce callogenesis, organogenesis, and somatic embryogenesis in non-meristematic explants of Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’ cultured in various media and to analyze the chemical diversity of the produced callus. Leaf, petiole, and internode explants were cultured on the modified Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium fortified with various combinations and concentrations of 6-benzyladenine (BA), indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA), 2,4-dichlorphenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), and picloram (PIC). After 10 weeks of culturing, the morphogenetic response of explants was evaluated and the concentration of chlorophylls, carotenoids, anthocyanins, and polyphenols in callus was analyzed. There was no influence of explant type on the callogenesis efficiency (62.1–65.3%). The highest fresh weight of callus was produced on leaf explants in the presence of 2,4-D or PIC. In contrast, the highest share of dry weight was found in internode-derived calli and cultured on IAA-supplemented medium (up to 30.8%). Only 2.5% of all explants regenerated adventitious shoots, while rhizogenesis was reported in 4.5% of explants. Somatic embryos were produced indirectly by 0% to 100% of explants, depending on the culture medium and explant type. The highest mean number of embryos (11.4 per explant) was found on petioles cultured in the MS medium with 0.5 mg·L−1 BA and 1.0 mg·L−1 PIC. Calli cultured in media with NAA usually contained a higher content of primary and secondary metabolites. There was also a significant impact of explant type on the content of anthocyanins, polyphenols, and carotenoids in callus. Further studies should focus on the elicitation of metabolites production in callus culture systems of the bleeding heart. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Article
TMARg, a Novel Anthraquinone Isolated from Rubia cordifolia Nakai, Increases Osteogenesis and Mineralization through BMP2 and β-Catenin Signaling
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(15), 5332; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21155332 - 27 Jul 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 844
Abstract
Background: Plant extracts have long been regarded as useful medicines in the treatment of human diseases. Rubia cordifolia Nakai has been used as a traditional medicine, as it has pharmacological properties such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. However, the biological functions of TMARg, [...] Read more.
Background: Plant extracts have long been regarded as useful medicines in the treatment of human diseases. Rubia cordifolia Nakai has been used as a traditional medicine, as it has pharmacological properties such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. However, the biological functions of TMARg, isolated from the roots of R. cordifolia, in osteoblast differentiation remain unknown. This study was performed to investigate the pharmacological effects and intracellular signaling of TMARg in the osteoblast differentiation of pre-osteoblast MC3T3-E1 cells and mesenchymal precursor C2C12 cells. Methods: Cell viability was evaluated using an MTT assay. Early and late osteoblast differentiation was examined by analyzing the activity of alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and by staining it with Alizarin red S (ARS). Cell migration was determined by using migration assays. Western blot analysis and immunocytochemical analysis were used to examine the intracellular signaling pathways and differentiation proteins. Results: In the present study, TMARg showed no cytotoxicity and increased the osteoblast differentiation in pre-osteoblasts, as assessed from the alkaline phosphate (ALP) staining and activity and ARS staining. TMARg also induced BMP2 expression and increased the p-smad1/5/8-RUNX2 and β-catenin pathways in both MC3T3-E1 and C2C12 cells. Furthermore, TMARg activated mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and increased the cell migration rate. In addition, the TMARg-mediated osteoblast differentiation was suppressed by BMP and Wnt inhibitors with the downregulation of BMP2 expression. Conclusion: These findings demonstrate that TMARg exerts pharmacological and biological effects on osteoblast differentiation through the activation of BMP2 and β-catenin signaling pathways, and suggest that TMARg might be a potential phytomedicine for the treatment of bone diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Review

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Review
Biochemical and Immunological implications of Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(20), 10910; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms222010910 - 09 Oct 2021
Viewed by 172
Abstract
Throughout history, nature has been acknowledged for being a primordial source of various bioactive molecules in which human macular carotenoids are gaining significant attention. Among 750 natural carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin and their oxidative metabolites are selectively accumulated in the macular region of living [...] Read more.
Throughout history, nature has been acknowledged for being a primordial source of various bioactive molecules in which human macular carotenoids are gaining significant attention. Among 750 natural carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin and their oxidative metabolites are selectively accumulated in the macular region of living beings. Due to their vast applications in food, feed, pharmaceutical and nutraceuticals industries, the global market of lutein and zeaxanthin is continuously expanding but chemical synthesis, extraction and purification of these compounds from their natural repertoire e.g., plants, is somewhat costly and technically challenging. In this regard microbial as well as microalgal carotenoids are considered as an attractive alternative to aforementioned challenges. Through the techniques of genetic engineering and gene-editing tools like CRISPR/Cas9, the overproduction of lutein and zeaxanthin in microorganisms can be achieved but the commercial scale applications of such procedures needs to be done. Moreover, these carotenoids are highly unstable and susceptible to thermal and oxidative degradation. Therefore, esterification of these xanthophylls and microencapsulation with appropriate wall materials can increase their shelf-life and enhance their application in food industry. With their potent antioxidant activities, these carotenoids are emerging as molecules of vital importance in chronic degenerative, malignancies and antiviral diseases. Therefore, more research needs to be done to further expand the applications of lutein and zeaxanthin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Review
Protective Effects of Black Cumin (Nigella sativa) and Its Bioactive Constituent, Thymoquinone against Kidney Injury: An Aspect on Pharmacological Insights
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(16), 9078; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22169078 - 23 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1151
Abstract
The prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is increasing worldwide, and a close association between acute kidney injury (AKI) and CKD has recently been identified. Black cumin (Nigella sativa) has been shown to be effective in treating various kidney diseases. Accumulating [...] Read more.
The prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is increasing worldwide, and a close association between acute kidney injury (AKI) and CKD has recently been identified. Black cumin (Nigella sativa) has been shown to be effective in treating various kidney diseases. Accumulating evidence shows that black cumin and its vital compound, thymoquinone (TQ), can protect against kidney injury caused by various xenobiotics, namely chemotherapeutic agents, heavy metals, pesticides, and other environmental chemicals. Black cumin can also protect the kidneys from ischemic shock. The mechanisms underlying the kidney protective potential of black cumin and TQ include antioxidation, anti-inflammation, anti-apoptosis, and antifibrosis which are manifested in their regulatory role in the antioxidant defense system, NF-κB signaling, caspase pathways, and TGF-β signaling. In clinical trials, black seed oil was shown to normalize blood and urine parameters and improve disease outcomes in advanced CKD patients. While black cumin and its products have shown promising kidney protective effects, information on nanoparticle-guided targeted delivery into kidney is still lacking. Moreover, the clinical evidence on this natural product is not sufficient to recommend it to CKD patients. This review provides insightful information on the pharmacological benefits of black cumin and TQ against kidney damage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Review
A Comprehensive Review of the Ethnotraditional Uses and Biological and Pharmacological Potential of the Genus Mimosa
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(14), 7463; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22147463 - 12 Jul 2021
Viewed by 571
Abstract
The Mimosa genus belongs to the Fabaceae family of legumes and consists of about 400 species distributed all over the world. The growth forms of plants belonging to the Mimosa genus range from herbs to trees. Several species of this genus play important [...] Read more.
The Mimosa genus belongs to the Fabaceae family of legumes and consists of about 400 species distributed all over the world. The growth forms of plants belonging to the Mimosa genus range from herbs to trees. Several species of this genus play important roles in folk medicine. In this review, we aimed to present the current knowledge of the ethnogeographical distribution, ethnotraditional uses, nutritional values, pharmaceutical potential, and toxicity of the genus Mimosa to facilitate the exploitation of its therapeutic potential for the treatment of human ailments. The present paper consists of a systematic overview of the scientific literature relating to the genus Mimosa published between 1931 and 2020, which was achieved by consulting various databases (Science Direct, Francis and Taylor, Scopus, Google Scholar, PubMed, SciELO, Web of Science, SciFinder, Wiley, Springer, Google, The Plant Database). More than 160 research articles were included in this review regarding the Mimosa genus. Mimosa species are nutritionally very important and several species are used as feed for different varieties of chickens. Studies regarding their biological potential have shown that species of the Mimosa genus have promising pharmacological properties, including antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticancer, antidiabetic, wound-healing, hypolipidemic, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, antinociceptive, antiepileptic, neuropharmacological, toxicological, antiallergic, antihyperurisemic, larvicidal, antiparasitic, molluscicidal, antimutagenic, genotoxic, teratogenic, antispasmolytic, antiviral, and antivenom activities. The findings regarding the genus Mimosa suggest that this genus could be the future of the medicinal industry for the treatment of various diseases, although in the future more research should be carried out to explore its ethnopharmacological, toxicological, and nutritional attributes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Review
Preventive Applications of Polyphenols in Dentistry—A Review
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(9), 4892; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22094892 - 05 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 687
Abstract
Polyphenols are natural substances that have been shown to provide various health benefits. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic effects have been described. At the same time, they inhibit the actions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Thus, studies have also examined their effects within the [...] Read more.
Polyphenols are natural substances that have been shown to provide various health benefits. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic effects have been described. At the same time, they inhibit the actions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Thus, studies have also examined their effects within the oral cavity. This review provides an overview on the different polyphenols, and their structure and interactions with the tooth surface and the pellicle. In particular, the effects of various tea polyphenols on bioadhesion and erosion have been reviewed. The current research confirms that polyphenols can reduce the growth of cariogenic bacteria. Furthermore, they can decrease the adherence of bacteria to the tooth surface and improve the erosion-protective properties of the acquired enamel pellicle. Tea polyphenols, especially, have the potential to contribute to an oral health-related diet. However, in vitro studies have mainly been conducted. In situ studies and clinical studies need to be extended and supplemented in order to significantly contribute to additive prevention measures in caries prophylaxis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Review
Selected Aspects Related to Medicinal and Aromatic Plants as Alternative Sources of Bioactive Compounds
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(4), 1521; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22041521 - 03 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1170
Abstract
Natural compounds obtained from different medicinal and aromatic plants have gained respect as alternative treatments to synthetic drugs, as well as raw materials for different applications (cosmetic, food and feed industries, environment protection, and many others). Based on a literature survey on dedicated [...] Read more.
Natural compounds obtained from different medicinal and aromatic plants have gained respect as alternative treatments to synthetic drugs, as well as raw materials for different applications (cosmetic, food and feed industries, environment protection, and many others). Based on a literature survey on dedicated databases, the aim of the present work is to be a critical discussion of aspects regarding classical extraction versus modern extraction techniques; possibilities to scale up (advantages and disadvantages of different extraction methods usually applied and the influence of extraction parameters); and different medicinal and aromatic plants’ different applications (medical and industrial applications, as well as the potential use in nanotechnology). As nowadays, research studies are directed toward the development of modern, innovative applications of the medicinal and aromatic plants, aspects regarding future perspectives are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Review
Genus Parkia: Phytochemical, Medicinal Uses, and Pharmacological Properties
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(2), 618; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22020618 - 09 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1276
Abstract
The genus Parkia (Fabaceae, Subfamily, Mimosoideae) comprises about 34 species of mostly evergreen trees widely distributed across neotropics, Asia, and Africa. This review aims to provide an overview of the current status of the species from the genus Parkia in terms of its [...] Read more.
The genus Parkia (Fabaceae, Subfamily, Mimosoideae) comprises about 34 species of mostly evergreen trees widely distributed across neotropics, Asia, and Africa. This review aims to provide an overview of the current status of the species from the genus Parkia in terms of its relationship between its phytochemistry and medical uses. Comprehensive information on Parkia species was retrieved from electronic databases, which were Web of Science, ScienceDirect, PubMed, and Google Scholar. This review identified nine species from genus Parkia with properties of medicinal use. They are used traditionally to treat several ailments, such as diabetes, diarrhea, wounds, hypertension, cough, chronic piles, conjunctivitis, and measles. The most common species studied are P. biglobosa, P. speciosa, P. javanica, P. bicolor, P. biglandulosa, P. filicoidea, and P. clappertoniana. A considerable number of secondary metabolites, such as terpenoids, phenolic acids, flavonoids (aglycone and glycosides), and numerous volatile compounds have been identified in this genus, which are responsible for their diverse pharmacological activities. Their extracts, pure compounds and seed lectins have been reported for their anticancer, antimicrobial, antihypertensive, antiulcer, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimalarial, hepatoprotective, and antidiarrheal activities. The information gathered in this review might be of help for future studies in terms of the current knowledge on the link between the phytochemical components and medicinal uses. This could facilitate more discoveries on its potentials particularly in the pharmacological characteristics and potential to be developed into modern medicines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Review
Anticancer Potential of Furanocoumarins: Mechanistic and Therapeutic Aspects
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(16), 5622; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21165622 - 06 Aug 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 1218
Abstract
Cancer is one of the most extreme medical conditions in both developing and developed countries around the world, causing millions of deaths each year. Chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy are key for treatment approaches, but both have numerous adverse health effects. Furthermore, the resistance of [...] Read more.
Cancer is one of the most extreme medical conditions in both developing and developed countries around the world, causing millions of deaths each year. Chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy are key for treatment approaches, but both have numerous adverse health effects. Furthermore, the resistance of cancerous cells to anticancer medication leads to treatment failure. The rising burden of cancer overall requires novel efficacious treatment modalities. Natural medications offer feasible alternative options against malignancy in contrast to western medication. Furanocoumarins’ defensive and restorative impacts have been observed in leukemia, glioma, breast, lung, renal, liver, colon, cervical, ovarian, and prostate malignancies. Experimental findings have shown that furanocoumarins activate multiple signaling pathways, leading to apoptosis, autophagy, antioxidant, antimetastatic, and cell cycle arrest in malignant cells. Additionally, furanocoumarins have been shown to have chemo preventive and chemotherapeutic synergistic potential when used in combination with other anticancer drugs. Here, we address different pathways which are activated by furanocoumarins and their therapeutic efficacy in various tumors. Ideally, this review will trigger interest in furanocoumarins and their potential efficacy and safety as a cancer lessening agents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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Review
Biological Properties, Bioactive Constituents, and Pharmacokinetics of Some Capsicum spp. and Capsaicinoids
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(15), 5179; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21155179 - 22 Jul 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2080
Abstract
Pepper originated from the Capsicum genus, which is recognized as one of the most predominant and globally distributed genera of the Solanaceae family. It is a diverse genus, consisting of more than 31 different species including five domesticated species, Capsicum baccatum, C. [...] Read more.
Pepper originated from the Capsicum genus, which is recognized as one of the most predominant and globally distributed genera of the Solanaceae family. It is a diverse genus, consisting of more than 31 different species including five domesticated species, Capsicum baccatum, C. annuum, C. pubescen, C. frutescens, and C. chinense. Pepper is the most widely used spice in the world and is highly valued due to its pungency and unique flavor. Pepper is a good source of provitamin A; vitamins E and C; carotenoids; and phenolic compounds such as capsaicinoids, luteolin, and quercetin. All of these compounds are associated with their antioxidant as well as other biological activities. Interestingly, Capsicum fruits have been used as food additives in the treatment of toothache, parasitic infections, coughs, wound healing, sore throat, and rheumatism. Moreover, it possesses antimicrobial, antiseptic, anticancer, counterirritant, appetite stimulator, antioxidant, and immunomodulator activities. Capsaicin and Capsicum creams are accessible in numerous ways and have been utilized in HIV-linked neuropathy and intractable pain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Properties of Medicinal Plants)
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