Biologically Active Compounds from the Genus Centaurium s.l. (Gentianaceae)
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One of the plant genera with the longest tradition in human medicine history is a popular panacea, Centaurium, named according to Pliny because the plant's medicinal properties were reputedly discovered by Chiron the centaur. In 17th century, Culpeper has claimed that its inward or outward usage was so safe that no one could fail in the using of this wholesome plant. Centauries owe this tremendous quality to their secondary metabolites, terpenoid and phenolic compounds. Among them, secoiridoid glycosides are appearing as most abundant class of terpenoids, while pharmaceutically highly appreciated xanthones and flavonoids mostly represent the class of phenolics. A period of momentous exploration of these compounds in the genus Centaurium was the 1960s of the last century. In parallel, vast area of medicinal studies started to apply isolated compounds and herbal extracts, as well to investigate the principles of their positive influence to many human health issues, such as diabetes, digestive and neurological disorders, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. In modern times, centauries and the compounds they produce still represent the subject of many medicinal and/or pharmacological studies. Their significance is highlighted by the metaanalysis: Google Scholar returns 72 academic titles (without citations), which in the same time contain either the word Centaurium or “centaury” and are dealing with some phytochemical analytics and/or medicinal aspects of herbal extracts. In only last 5 years, totally 15 studies were engaged in elucidation of medicinal or biological activity of centauries, such as antidiabetic activity—five studies; antimicrobial activity—four studies; toxicity (including cytotoxicity)—three studies; and hepatoprotective, gastroprotective, and vasodilatory effects—one study of each. Hence, there is an evident tendency and scientific interest for in-depth research on phytochemistry of the genus Centaurium s.l. and extensive insight into their modes of action to the human health. This study will offer a comprehensive and comparative overview on the secondary metabolites' analytics throughout the genus, with a contextual respect to the biotechnological enhancement of their accumulation. It will also review to-date accomplishments regarding application of various herbal extracts and isolated compounds in (bio)medicinal studies.
Keywords:Centaurium; Multiple biological activities; Secoiridoid glycosides; Secondary metabolites’ diversity; Xanthones
In: Atta-ur-Rahman, editor. Studies in Natural Products Chemistry. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier B.V.; 2016. p. 363-97.
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