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Medicinal Plants: A Source of Anti-Parasitic Secondary Metabolites

Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology, INF 364, Heidelberg University, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Molecules 2012, 17(11), 12771-12791;
Received: 12 September 2012 / Revised: 19 October 2012 / Accepted: 26 October 2012 / Published: 31 October 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Natural Products against Human Parasites)
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This review summarizes human infections caused by endoparasites, including protozoa, nematodes, trematodes, and cestodes, which affect more than 30% of the human population, and medicinal plants of potential use in their treatment. Because vaccinations do not work in most instances and the parasites have sometimes become resistant to the available synthetic therapeutics, it is important to search for alternative sources of anti-parasitic drugs. Plants produce a high diversity of secondary metabolites with interesting biological activities, such as cytotoxic, anti-parasitic and anti-microbial properties. These drugs often interfere with central targets in parasites, such as DNA (intercalation, alkylation), membrane integrity, microtubules and neuronal signal transduction. Plant extracts and isolated secondary metabolites which can inhibit protozoan parasites, such as Plasmodium, Trypanosoma, Leishmania, Trichomonas and intestinal worms are discussed. The identified plants and compounds offer a chance to develop new drugs against parasitic diseases. Most of them need to be tested in more detail, especially in animal models and if successful, in clinical trials. View Full-Text
Keywords: protozoa; parasites; medicinal plants; secondary metabolites; molecular targets protozoa; parasites; medicinal plants; secondary metabolites; molecular targets

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Wink, M. Medicinal Plants: A Source of Anti-Parasitic Secondary Metabolites. Molecules 2012, 17, 12771-12791.

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