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Concept: Star anise


Shikimic acid (SA) produced from the seeds of Chinese star anise (Illicium verum) is a key intermediate for the synthesis of neuraminidase inhibitors such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu®), an anti-influenza drug. However, plants cannot deliver a stable supply of SA. To avoid the resulting shortages and price fluctuations, a stable source of affordable SA is required. Although recent achievements in metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli strains have significantly increased SA productivity, commonly-used plasmid-based expression systems are prone to genetic instability and require constant selective pressure to ensure plasmid maintenance. Cofactors also play an important role in the biosynthesis of different fermentation products. In this study, we first constructed an E. coli SA production strain that carries no plasmid or antibiotic marker. We then investigated the effect of endogenous NADPH availability on SA production.

Concepts: Genetics, Bacteria, Escherichia coli, Anise, Japanese star anise, Star anise, Illicium, Shikimic acid


Anethole [1-methoxy-4-(1-propenyl)benzene] occurs naturally as a major component of the essential oil of star anise (Illicium verum Hook.f., family Illiciaceae), comprising more than 90 % of its volatile components. Studies showed that this substance has antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and anesthetic properties. In this study, the anti-inflammatory properties of anethole in animal models of nonimmune acute inflammation such as croton oil-induced ear edema and carrageenan-induced pleurisy were investigated. The investigated parameters were edema formation, leukocyte migration, and inflammatory mediators involved. Oral administration of anethole at a dose of 250 and 500 mg/kg reduced both the volume of pleural exudates and the number of migrated leukocytes. Levels of nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandins (PGE(2)) in the inflammatory exudate were reduced by treatment with anethole, but levels of tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β were not significantly altered. In ear edema, the oral treatment with anethole inhibited the formation of exudate and the activity of myeloperoxidase, but not after topical administration. These results suggest that the anethole may be effective in controlling some nonimmune acute inflammation-related disease, probably by an inhibitory action on production and/or release of PGE(2) and NO.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Anti-inflammatory, Anise, Star anise, Anethole, Illicium, Austrobaileyales


Mosquitoes constitute a severe health problem in many areas all over the world. There are many regions of the tropics and subtropics where mosquitoes are one of the main reasons for inhibiting the economic upgrade. Except nuisance, their medical importance is another matter of attention since mosquitoes are vectors for a wide variety of vector-borne diseases. Due to disadvantages of currently used chemical control methods, it is unavoidable to search for eco-friendly new molecules. We report herein the evaluation of the larvicidal effect exhibited by essential oils of Dianthus caryophyllus, Lepidium sativum, Pimpinella anisum, and Illicium verum against late third to early fourth instar mosquito larvae of Culex pipiens. Furthermore, phytochemical analysis of plant samples revealed their major compounds to be β-caryophyllene, eugenol, eucalyptol, α-terpinyl acetate, and (E)-anethole which were also tested for their potential larvicidal activity. For D. caryophyllus and L. sativum, this was the first report on the chemical composition of their essential oils. The essential oils of I. verum and P. anisum demonstrated high larvicidal activity with a LC(50) <18 mgL(-1). The other two essential oils of D. caryophyllus and L. sativum revealed moderate larvicidal activity, displaying a LC(50) value above 50 mgL(-1). Among the pure components, the most toxic were eugenol, (E)-anethole, and α-terpinyl acetate, with LC(50) values 18.28, 16.56, and 23.03 mgL(-1), respectively. Eucalyptol (1,8 cineole) and β-caryophyllene were inactive at concentrations even as high as 100 mgL(-1), showing the least significant activity against mosquito larvae. Results allow some rationalization on the relative importance of the major compounds regarding the larvicidal activity of selected essential oils and their potential use as vector control agents.

Concepts: Mosquito, Culicidae, Mosquito control, Essential oil, Nonanal, Anise, Japanese star anise, Star anise


A new, practical, rapid, and high-yielding process for the pressurized hot water extraction (PHWE) of multigram quantities of shikimic acid from star anise (Illicium verum) using an unmodified household espresso machine has been developed. This operationally simple and inexpensive method enables the efficient and straightforward isolation of shikimic acid and the facile preparation of a range of its synthetic derivatives.

Concepts: Absinthe, Anise, Japanese star anise, Star anise, Anethole, Illicium, Austrobaileyales, Shikimic acid


Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) signaling in keratinocytes plays an important role in mediating inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and contact dermatitis. Illicium verum Hook. f. has been used in traditional medicine for treating skin inflammation, rheumatism, asthma, and bronchitis in Asia.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Asthma, Eczema, Dermatitis, Star anise, Illicium


A new compound, illiciumflavane acid (1), along with 13 known compounds (2-14), were isolated from the fruits of Illicium verum Hook. F. Their structures were elucidated through various spectroscopic methods, including 1D NMR ((1)H NMR, (13)C NMR), 2D NMR (HMQC, HMBC and NOESY) and HRMS. The stereochemistry at the chiral centres was determined using CD spectrum as well as analyses of coupling constants and optical rotation data. Cytotoxicity evaluation of four compounds showed that illiciumflavane acid and (E)-1,2-bis(4-methoxyphenyl)ethene exhibited potential against A549 activities with IC50 values of 4.63 μM and 9.17 μM, respectively.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Optics, Stereochemistry, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Chemical structure, Circular dichroism, Star anise, Illicium


A new water soluble zinc-aminolevulinic acid nano complex (n[Zn(ALA)2 ]), which characterized by TEM, IR and EDX spectra, has been prepared via sonochemical method under green conditions in water. In the current study, the effectiveness of foliar Zn amendment using synthetic Zn-ALA nano complex, as a new introduced Zn-fertilizer here, was evaluated. As the model plant, Pimpinella anisum, the most valuable spice and medicinal plant grown in warm regions, was used. By using zinc nano complex, further twenty compounds were obtained in the essential oil of anise plants. Application of 0.2% (w/v) Zn-ALA nano complex increased the levels of E-Anethole, β-Bisabolene, Germacrene D, Methyl chavicol and α-Zingiberene in the essential oil. Nano Zn complex at the rate of 0.2% induced considerable high phenolic compounds and zinc content of shoots and seeds. Chlorogenic acid (CGA) had the highest level between four detected phenolic compounds. The maximum antioxidant activity was monitored through the application of Zn nano complex. According to the results, nanoscale nutrients can be provided with further decreased doses for medicinal plants. Using Zn-ALA nano complex is a new and efficient method to improve the pharmaceutical and food properties of anise plants. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Plant, Water, Apiaceae, Medicinal plants, Essential oil, Anise, Star anise, Anethole


Bacteria use quorum sensing (QS) systems to communicate with each other and regulate microbial group behavior, such as the secretion of virulence factors, including biofilm formation. In order to explore safe, edible agents, the potential of star anise (SA) as an anti-QS and antibiofilm agent and its possible application in milk safety were investigated. Staphylococcus aureus , Salmonella Typhimurium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa , and biosensor strain Chromobacterium violaceum were selected as test strains for QS, biofilm, and exopolysaccharide assays. The percent acidities and total plate counts were determined to evaluate the quality of biofilm-inoculated and noninoculated milk. The yield of SA extraction was 25.90% ± 0.2% (w/w). At sub-MIC, SA extract did not show any effect on bacterial growth. The production of violacein was inhibited by 89% by SA extract. The extract also inhibited the formation of biofilm by up to 87% in a dose-dependent manner. Inhibition rates of 70.45%, 42.82%, and 35.66% were found for exopolysaccharide production. The swarming motility of S. aureus was reduced by about 95.9% by SA extract. Confocal laser scanning microscopy analysis confirmed that the development of biofilm architecture was hampered. It was found that SA extract could delay the spoilage of milk. In the endeavor to avoid drug resistance, pathogenesis, and resistance to biocides while improving food safety and avoiding health hazard issues arising from synthetic chemicals, SA extract could be used as a potential QS and biofilm inhibitor.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Staphylococcus aureus, Antibiotic resistance, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Biofilm, Quorum sensing, Star anise


Illicium verum, whose extractives can activate the demic acquired immune response, is an expensive medicinal plant. However, the rich extractives in I. verum biomass were seriously wasted for the inefficient extraction and separation processes. In order to further utilize the biomedical resources for the good acquired immune response, the four extractives were obtained by SJYB extraction, and then the immunology moleculars of SJYB extractives were identified and analyzed by GC-MS. The result showed that the first-stage extractives contained 108 components including anethole (40.27%), 4-methoxy-benzaldehyde (4.25%), etc.; the second-stage extractives had 5 components including anethole (84.82%), 2-hydroxy-2-(4-methoxy-phenyl)-n-methyl-acetamide (7.11%), etc.; the third-stage extractives contained one component namely anethole (100%); and the fourth-stage extractives contained 5 components including cyclohexyl-benzene (64.64%), 1-(1-methylethenyl)-3-(1-methylethyl)-benzene (17.17%), etc. The SJYB extractives of I. verum biomass had a main retention time between 10 and 20 min what’s more, the SJYB extractives contained many biomedical moleculars, such as anethole, eucalyptol, [1S-(1α,4aα,10aβ)]-1,2,3,4,4a,9,10,10a-octahydro-1,4a-dimethyl-7-(1-methylethyl)-1-phenanthrenecarboxylic acid, stigmast-4-en-3-one, γ-sitosterol, and so on. So the functional analytical results suggested that the SJYB extractives of I. verum had a function in activating the acquired immune response and a huge potential in biomedicine.

Concepts: Immune system, Innate immune system, Immunology, Humoral immunity, Immunity, Chromatography, Separation process, Star anise


Intoxications in pediatric age represent a frequent cause of visit to the hospital emergency unit. Herb-made products can be toxic for the infant. The neurotoxic properties of the star anise (Illicium verum) have been widely described, although it is a classic product used to treat the infantile colic. Hepatic failure due to the consumption of anise herb elaborated infusions is presented as an exceptional finding in our environment. A case of a 4-month-old infant with hypertransaminasemia, severe coagulopathy, non ketotic hypoglycemia, moderated metabolic acidosis and neurologic symptoms such as seizures and nistagmus is described. After discarding infectious, metabolic and autoimmune etiology and through a meticulous anamnesis, the family referred having administered in the last two months a daily star anise and green anise (Pimpinella anisum) infusion to the patient. It is important to emphasize the serious risk of administering homemade herb infusions to infants.

Concepts: Liver, Pediatrics, Medicinal plants, Absinthe, Anise, Japanese star anise, Star anise, Anethole