Lignans comprise a family of secondary metabolites existing widely in plants and also in human food sources. As important components, these compounds play remarkable roles in plants’ ecological functions as protection against herbivores and microorganisms. Meanwhile, foods rich in lignans have revealed potential to decrease of risk of cancers. To date, a number of promising bioactivities have been found for lignan natural products and their unnatural analogues, including antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor, antiplatelet, phosphodiesterase inhibition, 5-lipoxygenase inhibition, HIV reverse transcription inhibition, cytotoxic activities, antioxidant activities, immunosuppressive activities and antiasthmatic activities. Therefore, the synthesis of this family and also their analogues have attracted widespread interest from the synthetic organic chemistry community. Herein, we outline advances in the synthesis of lignan natural products in the last decade.
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