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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: 30 September 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Raffaele Capasso
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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
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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
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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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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

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

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
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
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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Open AccessArticle
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
Viewed by 368
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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Open AccessArticle
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 472
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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Open AccessArticle
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
Viewed by 539
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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Open AccessArticle
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 2 | Viewed by 558
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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Open AccessArticle
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 2 | Viewed by 577
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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Open AccessReview
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
Viewed by 299
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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Open AccessReview
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 1 | Viewed by 565
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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Open AccessReview
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 3 | Viewed by 725
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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Open AccessReview
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 2 | Viewed by 1193
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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