Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Planta medica


St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been intensively investigated for its antidepressive activity, but dermatological applications also have a long tradition. Topical St. John’s wort preparations such as oils or tinctures are used for the treatment of minor wounds and burns, sunburns, abrasions, bruises, contusions, ulcers, myalgia, and many others. Pharmacological research supports the use in these fields. Of the constituents, naphthodianthrones (e.g., hypericin) and phloroglucinols (e.g., hyperforin) have interesting pharmacological profiles, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antimicrobial activities. In addition, hyperforin stimulates growth and differentiation of keratinocytes, and hypericin is a photosensitizer which can be used for selective treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancer. However, clinical research in this field is still scarce. Recently, sporadic trials have been conducted in wound healing, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and herpes simplex infections, partly with purified single constituents and modern dermatological formulations. St. John’s wort also has a potential for use in medical skin care. Composition and stability of pharmaceutical formulations vary greatly depending on origin of the plant material, production method, lipophilicity of solvents, and storage conditions, and this must be regarded with respect to practical as well as scientific purposes.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Wound healing, Herpes simplex, Wound, St John's wort, Hypericum, Hyperforin


Phytoestrogens constitute an attractive research topic due to their estrogenic profile and their biological involvement in woman’s health. Therefore, numerous studies are currently performed in natural products chemistry area aiming at the discovery of novel phytoestrogens. The main classes of phytoestrogens are flavonoids (flavonols, flavanones), isoflavonoids (isoflavones, coumestans), lignans, stilbenoids as well as miscellaneous chemical groups abundant in several edible and/or medicinal plants, belonging mostly to the Leguminosae family. As for other bioactives, the detection of new structures and more potent plant-derived phytoestrogens typically follows the general approaches currently available in the natural product discovery process. Plant-based approaches selected from traditional medicine knowledge and bioguided concepts are routinely employed. However, these approaches are associated with serious disadvantages such as time-consuming, repeated, and labor intensive processes as well as lack of specificity and reproducibility. In recent years, the natural products chemistry became more technology-driven, and several different strategies have been developed. Structure-oriented procedures and miniaturized approaches employing advanced hyphenated analytical platforms have recently emerged. They facilitate significantly not only the discovery of novel phytoestrogens but also the dereplication procedure leading to the anticipation of major drawbacks in natural products discovery. In this review, apart from the traditional concepts followed in phytochemistry for the discovery of novel biologically active compounds, recent applications in the field of extraction, analysis, fractionation, and identification of phytoestrogens will be discussed. Moreover, specific methodologies combining identification of actives and biological evaluation in parallel, such as liquid chromatography-biochemical detection, frontal affinity chromatography-mass spectrometry and pulsed ultrafiltration-MS will also be presented. Finally, miniaturized methods (microchip and biosensor) will be also discussed.With the current review, we attempt to give a wide and holistic overview of the different approaches which could be employed in the discovery of new phytoestrogens. On the other hand, we anticipate to attract more scientists to the area of phytoestrogens and to indicate the need of multidisciplinary concepts.

Concepts: Natural selection, Biology, Chemistry, Fabaceae, Flavonoid, Natural product, Natural products, Attractive


The accurate identification of bay leaf in natural products commerce may often be confusing as the name is applied to several different species of aromatic plants. The true “bay leaf”, also known as “bay laurel” or “sweet bay”, is sourced from the tree Laurus nobilis, a native of the Mediterranean region. Nevertheless, the leaves of several other species including Cinnamomum tamala, Litsea glaucescens, Pimenta racemosa, Syzygium polyanthum, and Umbellularia californica are commonly substituted or mistaken for true bay leaves due to their similarity in the leaf morphology, aroma, and flavor. Substitute species are, however, often sold as “bay leaves”. As such, the name “bay leaf” in literature and herbal commerce may refer to any of these botanicals. The odor and flavor of these leaves are, however, not the same as the true bay leaf, and for that reason they should not be used in cooking as a substitute for L. nobilis. Some of the bay leaf substitutes can also cause potential health problems. Therefore, the correct identification of the true bay leaf is important. The present work provides a detailed comparative study of the leaf morphological and anatomical features of L. nobilis and its common surrogates to allow for correct identification.

Concepts: Plant morphology, Essential oil, Herbs, Lauraceae, Laurus, Malabathrum, Bay Laurel, Laurales genera


Extracts, subfractions, isolated anthocyanins and procyanidins, and two phenolic acids from aronia [Aronia melanocarpa] were investigated for their CYP3A4 inhibitory effects, using midazolam as the probe substrate and recombinant insect cell microsomes expressing CYP3A4 as the enzyme source. Procyanidin B5 was a considerably stronger CYP3A4 inhibitor in vitro than the isomeric procyanidin B2 and comparable to bergamottin, a known CYP3A4 inhibitor from grapefruit juice. The inhibitory activity of proanthocyanidin-containing fractions was correlated to the degree of polymerization. Among the anthocyanins, cyanidin 3-arabinoside showed stronger CYP3A4 inhibition than cyanidin 3-galactoside and cyanidin 3-glucoside. Thus, the ability to inhibit CYP3A4 in vitro seems to be influenced by the sugar unit linked to the anthocyanidin.

Concepts: Cytochrome P450, Enzyme inhibitor, CYP3A4, Grapefruit, Grapefruit juice, Proanthocyanidins, B type proanthocyanidin, Bergamottin


Sappanwood (Caesalpinia sappan Linn.) is used as an herbal medicine. It is sometimes used to treat skin damage or as a facial cleanser. In the present study, the methanol (MeOH) extract of sappanwood was found to inhibit melanin synthesis in cultured human melanoma HMV-II cells stimulated with forskolin, and six active compounds (1-5 and 7) were isolated from the extract along with a non-active compound (6). Compounds 2-7 were identified as sappanchalcone (2), 3'-deoxy-4-O-methylsappanol (3), brazilein, (4), brazilin (5), sappanol (6), and 4-O-methylsappanol (7). Compound 1 was a new compound, and its structure was determined to be (6aS,11bR)-7,11b-dihydro-6H-indeno[2,1-c]chromene-3,6a,10,11-tetrol by spectroscopic analyses. Among the six active compounds, brazilin (5) (EC50: 3.0 ± 0.5 µM) and 4-O-methylsappanol (7) (EC50: 4.6 ± 0.7 µM) strongly suppressed melanin synthesis in HMV-II cells. Bioactive compounds showed moderate cytotoxicities against HMV-II cells with IC50 values of 83.1 ± 4.0 µM (for 2), 72.0 µM ± 2.4 (for 3), 33.8 ± 1.1 µM (for 4), 18.4 ± 0.8 µM (for 5), and 20.2 ± 0.8 (for 7), respectively. Brazilin (5) selectively suppressed the expression of mRNAs for tyrosinase-related protein (TYRP) 2 and tyrosinase but did not influence the expression of TYRP1. These results suggest that brazilin (5) is a new class of melanin inhibitor and that sappanwood could be used as a cosmetic material.

Concepts: Inhibitor, Melanin, Trees, Suppression, Brazilin, Sappanwood, Brazilwood, Caesalpinia


A chemical investigation of the EtOAc-soluble fraction from the ethanol extract of the medullae of Juncus effusus led to the isolation of three new 9,10-dihydrophenanthrenes, juncuenins E-G (1-3); two new phenanthrenes, dehydrojuncuenins D-E (4-5); one new feruloylated glycoside (6); and one known 9,10-dihydrophenanthrene (7). The structures of these compounds were determined by analyzing their spectroscopic data. Metabolites 1-4 and 7 were further evaluated for their in vitro cytotoxic activities against seven human cancer lines (A549, MCF-7, BEL-7402, HeLa, COLO205, BGC-823, and SK-OV-3). Among them, compound 1 exhibited weak cytotoxicity against MCF-7 and HeLa cell lines. Compound 7 showed moderate cytotoxicity against MCF-7 and HeLa cell lines, with IC50 values of 9.17 and 19.6 µM, respectively.

Concepts: Cell, Cell culture, Toxicology, Cell lines, HeLa, Cytotoxicity, Chemical compound, Juncus effusus


Given that harvesting time has a great impact on the quality of herbal medicine, knowing the ontogenesis in the chemical profile aspect is essential to determine the optimal harvesting season. A high-throughput and versatile approach (herbal infrared macro-fingerprinting) harmonizing with the character of herbal medicine and providing the whole chemical profile (entirety), group analogues (part), and single compounds (major components) is developed to rapidly disclose the variation rule of the full chemical profile of herbal medicine over a growing season without extraction pretreatments, and thus to determine the optimal harvesting period in respect to groups of chemical compounds using Scutellaria baicalensis as a demonstration. IR macro-fingerprints of Scutellaria baicalensis harvested in the same period have a high similarity (> 0.91) despite small variations, suggesting that IR macro-fingerprinting can faithfully reflect the spectacle of “disordered order” in nature. From Year-1 spring to Year-3 autumn, general contents (%, w/w) of total flavonoids fluctuate up and down with a maximum value in Year-2 spring, and that of saccharides is relatively stable except for the attenuation from Year-2 autumn to Year-3 spring. From Year-1 autumn to Year-2 spring, flavonoid aglycones initially produced in Scutellaria baicalensis are extensively transformed to responding flavonoid glycosides. From Year-2 spring to Year-3 autumn, flavonoid glycosides are converted back to their corresponding aglycones. The best seasons for collecting Scutellaria baicalensis with a high content of flavonoid glycosides and aglycones would be Year-2 spring and Year-3 spring, respectively.

Concepts: Harvest, Chemical compound, Season, Flavonoid, Glycoside, Infrared, Viticulture, Scutellaria baicalensis


Five new compounds, including one new xanthone, 1-hydroxy-5-methoxyxanthone 6-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (1), one new lignan, 3-(β-D-glucopyranosyloxymethyl)-2-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-5-(3-acetoxypropyl)-7-methoxy-(2R,3S)-dihydrobenzofuran (2), and three new γ-pyrones, japonicumone A 4'-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (3), japonicumone B 3'-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (4), and japonicumone B 4'-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (5), together with eight known compounds (6-13) were isolated from the whole plants of Arenaria serpyllifolia. Their structures were elucidated on the basis of extensive spectroscopic analysis (UV, IR, HRESIMS, 1D- and 2D-NMR, and CD) as well as chemical methods. The isolated compounds were evaluated for their inhibitory effects on nitric oxide production in lipopolysaccharide-activated RAW 264.7 macrophages. Compounds 1-5, sacranoside A (9), and pedunculoside (13) showed potential nitric oxide inhibitory activities with IC50 values ranging from 14.92 µM to 52.23 µM.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Light, Nitrogen, Nitric oxide, Chemical compound, Two dimensional correlation analysis, Infrared, Arenaria serpyllifolia


Eleven new diterpenes, named decandrins A-K (1-11), including nine abietanes (1-9) and two podocarpanes (10-11), were isolated from the barks of an Indian mangrove, Ceriops decandra, collected in the mangrove swamp of Godavari estuary, Andhra Pradesh, together with four known abietanes. The structures of these compounds were established on the basis of spectroscopic data (new compounds) or comparison with data in the literature (known compounds). This is the first report of abietane and podocarpane diterpenoids from C. decandra.

Concepts: India, Tamil Nadu, Bay of Bengal, Mangrove, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Krishna River, Godavari River


A study of secondary metabolites from the bark of Alnus glutinosa led to the isolation of fourteen diarylheptanoids: oregonin (1), platyphylloside (2), rubranoside A (3), rubranoside B (4), hirsutanonol (5), hirsutenone (6), hirsutanonol-5-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (7), platyphyllonol-5-O-β-D-xylopyranoside (8), aceroside VII (9), alnuside A (10), alnuside B (11), 1,7-bis-(3,4-dihydoxyphenyl)-5-hydroxy-heptane-3-O-β-D-xylopyranoside (12), (5S)-1-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-7-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-5-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-heptan-3-one (13), and (5S)-1,7-bis-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-5-O-β-D-[6-(3,4-dimethoxycinnamoylglucopyranosyl)]-heptan-3-one (14). All of the diarylheptanoids, except 1 and 5, were found in A. glutinosa for the first time, while 13 and 14 were new compounds. The structures were determined by spectroscopic techniques: 1D and 2D NMR, HR-ESI-MS, FTIR, UV, and CD. All isolated compounds were analyzed for an in vitro protective effect on chromosome aberrations in peripheral human lymphocytes using the cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay. The majority of them, including the new compounds 13 and 14, exerted a pronounced effect in decreasing DNA damage in human lymphocytes. Diarylheptanoids 1, 2, 5, 13, and 14 at a concentration of 1 µg/mL decreased the frequency of micronuclei by 52.8 %, 43.8 %, 63.6 %, 44.4 %, and 56.0 %, respectively, exerting a much stronger effect than the synthetic protector amifostine (17.2 %, c = 1 µg/mL).

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Ultraviolet, Metabolism, Chromosome, 22, 13, Alnus glutinosa