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Topical Collection "Bioactive Natural Compounds for Therapeutics and Nutraceutical Applications"

Editors

Dr. Sonia A.O. Santos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CICECO – Aveiro Institute of Materials, Department of Chemistry, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
Interests: biorefinery; biomass valorization; green extraction methodologies; natural compounds; phenolic compounds; lipophilic compounds; HPLC-MS
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Raphael Grougnet
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Laboratory of Pharmacognosy, UMR CNRS 8638, Faculty of Pharmacy, Paris Descartes University, Sorbonne Paris Cité, 4 avenue de l’Observatoire, 75006 Paris, France
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Vessela Balabanova
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Medical University of Sofia, 2 Dunav St., 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, natural compounds have been rediscovered as valuable and effective drug candidates, being increasingly recognized as new emerging ingredients/additives in therapeutics for the management of different acute and chronic diseases and nutraceutical applications. Consequently, natural resources, including, e.g., plants, algae, fungi, and all biomass processing by-products, have been widely exploited as sources of bioactive natural compounds, and a great effort has been devoted to the extraction, characterization, and biological activity evaluation of novel valuable natural compounds, focused particularly in the discovery of new therapeutics or nutraceutics. This Special Issue on “Bioactive Natural Compounds for Therapeutics and Nutraceutical Applications” welcomes original research and reviews in the field, with focus on the extraction and characterization of new natural bioactive components and their potential for therapeutics or nutraceutical applications, including but not limited to the recent developments on the study of the structure–bioactivity relationship and the incorporation of bioactive compounds in novel functional matrices.

Dr. Sonia A.O. Santos
Prof. Dr. Armando J. D. Silvestre
Dr. Raphael Grougnet
Dr. Vessela Balabanova
Guest Editors

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Published Papers (23 papers)

2021

Jump to: 2020, 2019

Article
Combinations of Piperine with Hydroxypropyl-β-Cyclodextrin as a Multifunctional System
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(8), 4195; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22084195 - 18 Apr 2021
Viewed by 425
Abstract
Piperine is an alkaloid that has extensive pharmacological activity and impacts other active substances bioavailability due to inhibition of CYP450 enzymes, stimulation of amino acid transporters and P-glycoprotein inhibition. Low solubility and the associated low bioavailability of piperine limit its potential. The [...] Read more.
Piperine is an alkaloid that has extensive pharmacological activity and impacts other active substances bioavailability due to inhibition of CYP450 enzymes, stimulation of amino acid transporters and P-glycoprotein inhibition. Low solubility and the associated low bioavailability of piperine limit its potential. The combination of piperine with 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HP-β-CD) causes a significant increase in its solubility and, consequently, an increase in permeability through gastrointestinal tract membranes and the blood–brain barrier. X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) were used to characterize interactions between piperine and HP-β-CD. The observed physicochemical changes should be combined with the process of piperine and CD system formation. Importantly, with an increase in solubility and permeability of piperine as a result of interaction with CD, it was proven to maintain its biological activity concerning the antioxidant potential (2,2-diphenyl-1-picryl-hydrazyl-hydrate assay), inhibition of enzymes essential for the inflammatory process and for neurodegenerative changes (hyaluronidase, acetylcholinesterase, butyrylcholinesterase). Full article
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2020

Jump to: 2021, 2019

Article
Phlorotannins from Fucus vesiculosus: Modulation of Inflammatory Response by Blocking NF-κB Signaling Pathway
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(18), 6897; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21186897 - 20 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 733
Abstract
Due to their large spectrum of bioactive properties, much attention has recently been drawn to phlorotannins—i.e., phenolic compounds characteristic from brown macroalgae. This study aimed to evaluate the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of F. vesiculosus phlorotannin extracts and purified fractions. Overall, the crude [...] Read more.
Due to their large spectrum of bioactive properties, much attention has recently been drawn to phlorotannins—i.e., phenolic compounds characteristic from brown macroalgae. This study aimed to evaluate the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of F. vesiculosus phlorotannin extracts and purified fractions. Overall, the crude extract and its ethyl acetate fraction (EtOAc) showed good radical scavenging activity, particularly towards nitric oxide (NO). Subsequent subfractions of EtOAc (F1 to F9) with different molecular weights were then shown to inhibit lipopolysaccharide-induced NO production in macrophages, with stronger effects being observed for fractions of lower MWs. Of the three intracellular markers analyzed, inducible NO synthase showed the highest sensitivity to almost all the phlorotannin-rich samples, followed by interleukin 1β and cyclooxygenase 2, which was only inhibited by F2. Furthermore, this subfraction inhibited the phosphorylation and degradation of inhibitory protein κBα, thus preventing the activation of NF-κB and blocking the inflammatory cascade at the transcriptional level. This sample was characterized by the presence of a major compound with a deprotonated molecular ion at m/z 507 with a fragmentation pattern coherent with that of a phlorotannin derivative. Overall, this work unveiled some of the mechanistic aspects behind the anti-inflammatory capacity of phlorotannins from F. vesiculosus, endorsing its use as a possible natural source of anti-inflammatory compounds. Full article
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Review
Plant-Derived Substances in the Fight Against Infections Caused by Candida Species
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(17), 6131; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21176131 - 25 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 681
Abstract
Yeast-like fungi from the Candida genus are predominantly harmless commensals that colonize human skin and mucosal surfaces, but under conditions of impaired host immune system change into dangerous pathogens. The pathogenicity of these fungi is typically accompanied by increased adhesion and formation of [...] Read more.
Yeast-like fungi from the Candida genus are predominantly harmless commensals that colonize human skin and mucosal surfaces, but under conditions of impaired host immune system change into dangerous pathogens. The pathogenicity of these fungi is typically accompanied by increased adhesion and formation of complex biofilms, making candidal infections challenging to treat. Although a variety of antifungal drugs have been developed that preferably attack the fungal cell wall and plasma membrane, these pathogens have acquired novel defense mechanisms that make them resistant to standard treatment. This causes an increase in the incidence of candidiasis and enforces the urgent need for an intensified search for new specifics that could be helpful, alone or synergistically with traditional drugs, for controlling Candida pathogenicity. Currently, numerous reports have indicated the effectiveness of plant metabolites as potent antifungal agents. These substances have been shown to inhibit growth and to alter the virulence of different Candida species in both the planktonic and hyphal form and during the biofilm formation. This review focuses on the most recent findings that provide evidence of decreasing candidal pathogenicity by different substances of plant origin, with a special emphasis on the mechanisms of their action. This is a particularly important issue in the light of the currently increasing frequency of emerging Candida strains and species resistant to standard antifungal treatment. Full article
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Review
Ursolic Acid-Based Derivatives as Potential Anti-Cancer Agents: An Update
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(16), 5920; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21165920 - 18 Aug 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1115
Abstract
Ursolic acid is a pharmacologically active pentacyclic triterpenoid derived from medicinal plants, fruit, and vegetables. The pharmacological activities of ursolic acid have been extensively studied over the past few years and various reports have revealed that ursolic acid has multiple biological activities, which [...] Read more.
Ursolic acid is a pharmacologically active pentacyclic triterpenoid derived from medicinal plants, fruit, and vegetables. The pharmacological activities of ursolic acid have been extensively studied over the past few years and various reports have revealed that ursolic acid has multiple biological activities, which include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, etc. In terms of cancer treatment, ursolic acid interacts with a number of molecular targets that play an essential role in many cell signaling pathways. It suppresses transformation, inhibits proliferation, and induces apoptosis of tumor cells. Although ursolic acid has many benefits, its therapeutic applications in clinical medicine are limited by its poor bioavailability and absorption. To overcome such disadvantages, researchers around the globe have designed and developed synthetic ursolic acid derivatives with enhanced therapeutic effects by structurally modifying the parent skeleton of ursolic acid. These structurally modified compounds display enhanced therapeutic effects when compared to ursolic acid. This present review summarizes various synthesized derivatives of ursolic acid with anti-cancer activity which were reported from 2015 to date. Full article
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Review
Cinnamic Acid Derivatives and Their Biological Efficacy
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(16), 5712; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21165712 - 09 Aug 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1502
Abstract
The role played by cinnamic acid derivatives in treating cancer, bacterial infections, diabetes and neurological disorders, among many, has been reported. Cinnamic acid is obtained from cinnamon bark. Its structure is composed of a benzene ring, an alkene double bond and an acrylic [...] Read more.
The role played by cinnamic acid derivatives in treating cancer, bacterial infections, diabetes and neurological disorders, among many, has been reported. Cinnamic acid is obtained from cinnamon bark. Its structure is composed of a benzene ring, an alkene double bond and an acrylic acid functional group making it possible to modify the aforementioned functionalities with a variety of compounds resulting in bioactive agents with enhanced efficacy. The nature of the substituents incorporated into cinnamic acid has been found to play a huge role in either enhancing or decreasing the biological efficacy of the synthesized cinnamic acid derivatives. Some of the derivatives have been reported to be more effective when compared to the standard drugs used to treat chronic or infectious diseases in vitro, thus making them very promising therapeutic agents. Compound 20 displayed potent anti-TB activity, compound 27 exhibited significant antibacterial activity on S. aureus strain of bacteria and compounds with potent antimalarial activity are 35a, 35g, 35i, 36i, and 36b. Furthermore, compounds 43d, 44o, 55g–55p, 59e, 59g displayed potent anticancer activity and compounds 86f–h were active against both hAChE and hBuChE. This review will expound on the recent advances on cinnamic acid derivatives and their biological efficacy. Full article
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Article
Tomatine Displays Antitumor Potential in In Vitro Models of Metastatic Melanoma
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(15), 5243; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21155243 - 23 Jul 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 779
Abstract
There is a growing interest in the cytotoxic effects of bioactive glycoalkaloids, such as α-tomatine on tumor cells. Here, for the first time, we determine the antitumor potential of tomatine, a mixture of α-tomatine and dehydrotomatine, in metastatic melanoma (MM) cell lines harboring [...] Read more.
There is a growing interest in the cytotoxic effects of bioactive glycoalkaloids, such as α-tomatine on tumor cells. Here, for the first time, we determine the antitumor potential of tomatine, a mixture of α-tomatine and dehydrotomatine, in metastatic melanoma (MM) cell lines harboring different BRAF and MC1R variants. We performed cytotoxicity experiments and annexin-V/propidium iodide staining to assess the apoptotic/necrotic status of the cells. ER stress and autophagy markers were revealed by Western Blot, whereas antiangiogenic and vascular-disrupting effects were evaluated through a capillary tube formation assay on matrigel and by ELISA kit for VEGF release determination. Cell invasion was determined by a Boyden chamber matrigel assay. Tomatine reduced 50% of cell viability and induced a concentration-dependent increase of apoptotic cells in the range of 0.5–1 μM in terms of α-tomatine. The extent of apoptosis was more than two-fold higher in V600BRAF-D184H/D184H MC1R cells than in BRAF wild-type cells and V600BRAF-MC1R wild-type cell lines. Additionally, tomatine increased the LC3I/II autophagy marker, p-eIF2α, and p-Erk1/2 levels in BRAF wild-type cells. Notably, tomatine strongly reduced cell invasion and melanoma-dependent angiogenesis by reducing VEGF release and tumor-stimulating effects on capillary tube formation. Collectively, our findings support tomatine as a potential antitumor agent in MM. Full article
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Review
Lessons from Exploring Chemical Space and Chemical Diversity of Propolis Components
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(14), 4988; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21144988 - 15 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1303
Abstract
Propolis is a natural resinous material produced by bees and has been used in folk medicines since ancient times. Due to it possessing a broad spectrum of biological activities, it has gained significant scientific and commercial interest over the last two decades. As [...] Read more.
Propolis is a natural resinous material produced by bees and has been used in folk medicines since ancient times. Due to it possessing a broad spectrum of biological activities, it has gained significant scientific and commercial interest over the last two decades. As a result of searching 122 publications reported up to the end of 2019, we assembled a unique compound database consisting of 578 components isolated from both honey bee propolis and stingless bee propolis, and analyzed the chemical space and chemical diversity of these compounds. The results demonstrated that both honey bee propolis and stingless bee propolis are valuable sources for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical development. Full article
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Review
Molecular Targets of Natural Products for Chondroprotection in Destructive Joint Diseases
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(14), 4931; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21144931 - 13 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 681
Abstract
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis that occurs in an aged population. It affects any joints in the body and degenerates the articular cartilage and the subchondral bone. Despite the pathophysiology of OA being different, cartilage resorption is still a [...] Read more.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis that occurs in an aged population. It affects any joints in the body and degenerates the articular cartilage and the subchondral bone. Despite the pathophysiology of OA being different, cartilage resorption is still a symbol of osteoarthritis. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are important proteolytic enzymes that degrade extra-cellular matrix proteins (ECM) in the body. MMPs contribute to the turnover of cartilage and its break down; their levels have increased in the joint tissues of OA patients. Application of chondroprotective drugs neutralize the activities of MMPs. Natural products derived from herbs and plants developed as traditional medicine have been paid attention to, due to their potential biological effects. The therapeutic value of natural products in OA has increased in reputation due to their clinical impact and insignificant side effects. Several MMPs inhibitor have been used as therapeutic drugs, for a long time. Recently, different types of compounds were reviewed for their biological activities. In this review, we summarize numerous natural products for the development of MMPs inhibitors in arthritic diseases and describe the major signaling targets that were involved for the treatments of these destructive joint diseases. Full article
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Review
Nutraceuticals in the Treatment of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(14), 4827; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21144827 - 08 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1144
Abstract
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a severe disease characterized by the loss and obstructive remodeling of the pulmonary arterial wall, causing a rise in pulmonary arterial pressure and pulmonary vascular resistance, which is responsible for right heart failure, functional decline, and death. Although [...] Read more.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a severe disease characterized by the loss and obstructive remodeling of the pulmonary arterial wall, causing a rise in pulmonary arterial pressure and pulmonary vascular resistance, which is responsible for right heart failure, functional decline, and death. Although many drugs are available for the treatment of this condition, it continues to be life-threatening, and its long-term treatment is expensive. On the other hand, many natural compounds present in food have beneficial effects on several cardiovascular conditions. Several studies have explored many of the potential beneficial effects of natural plant products on PAH. However, the mechanisms by which natural products, such as nutraceuticals, exert protective and therapeutic effects on PAH are not fully understood. In this review, we analyze the current knowledge on nutraceuticals and their potential use in the protection and treatment of PAH, as well as whether nutraceuticals could enhance the effects of drugs used in PAH through similar mechanisms. Full article
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Article
Norditerpenoids with Selective Anti-Cholinesterase Activity from the Roots of Perovskia atriplicifolia Benth.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(12), 4475; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21124475 - 23 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1017
Abstract
Inhibition of cholinesterases remains one of a few available treatment strategies for neurodegenerative dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. The current study was inspired by previous data on anticholinesterase properties of diterpenoids from Perovskia atriplicifolia and other Lamiaceae species. The acetylcholinesterase [...] Read more.
Inhibition of cholinesterases remains one of a few available treatment strategies for neurodegenerative dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. The current study was inspired by previous data on anticholinesterase properties of diterpenoids from Perovskia atriplicifolia and other Lamiaceae species. The acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) inhibition by the three new natural compounds—(1R,15R)-1-acetoxycryptotanshinone (1), (1R)-1-acetoxytanshinone IIA (2), and (15R)-1-oxoaegyptinone A (3)—as well as, new for this genus, isograndifoliol (4) were assessed. Three of these compounds exhibited profound inhibition of butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) and much weaker inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE). All compounds (14) selectively inhibited BChE (IC50 = 2.4, 7.9, 50.8, and 0.9 µM, respectively), whereas only compounds 3 and 4 moderately inhibited AChE (IC50 329.8 µM and 342.9 µM). Molecular docking and in silico toxicology prediction studies were also performed on the active compounds. Natural oxygenated norditerpenoids from the traditional Central Asian medicinal plant P. atriplicifolia are selective BChE inhibitors. Their high potential makes them useful candidate molecules for further investigation as lead compounds in the development of a natural drug against dementia caused by neurodegenerative diseases. Full article
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Article
Purified Tea (Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze) Flower Saponins Induce the p53-Dependent Intrinsic Apoptosis of Cisplatin-Resistant Ovarian Cancer Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(12), 4324; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21124324 - 17 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 746
Abstract
Ovarian cancer is currently ranked at fifth in cancer deaths among women. Patients who have undergone cisplatin-based chemotherapy can experience adverse effects or become resistant to treatment, which is a major impediment for ovarian cancer treatment. Natural products from plants have drawn great [...] Read more.
Ovarian cancer is currently ranked at fifth in cancer deaths among women. Patients who have undergone cisplatin-based chemotherapy can experience adverse effects or become resistant to treatment, which is a major impediment for ovarian cancer treatment. Natural products from plants have drawn great attention in the fight against cancer recently. In this trial, purified tea (Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze) flower saponins (PTFSs), whose main components are Chakasaponin I and Chakasaponin IV, inhibited the growth and proliferation of ovarian cancer cell lines A2780/CP70 and OVCAR-3. Flow cytometry, caspase activity and Western blotting analysis suggested that such inhibitory effects of PTFSs on ovarian cancer cells were attributed to the induction of cell apoptosis through the intrinsic pathway rather than extrinsic pathway. The p53 protein was then confirmed to play an important role in PTFS-induced intrinsic apoptosis, and the levels of its downstream proteins such as caspase families, Bcl-2 families, Apaf-1 and PARP were regulated by PTFS treatment. In addition, the upregulation of p53 expression by PTFSs were at least partly induced by DNA damage through the ATM/Chk2 pathway. The results help us to understand the mechanisms underlying the effects of PTFSs on preventing and treating platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. Full article
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Article
Chrysosplenol d, a Flavonol from Artemisia annua, Induces ERK1/2-Mediated Apoptosis in Triple Negative Human Breast Cancer Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(11), 4090; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21114090 - 08 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 934
Abstract
Triple negative human breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive cancer subtype with poor prognosis. Besides the better-known artemisinin, Artemisia annua L. contains numerous active compounds not well-studied yet. High-performance liquid chromatography coupled with diode-array and mass spectrometric detection (HPLC-DAD-MS) was used for the [...] Read more.
Triple negative human breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive cancer subtype with poor prognosis. Besides the better-known artemisinin, Artemisia annua L. contains numerous active compounds not well-studied yet. High-performance liquid chromatography coupled with diode-array and mass spectrometric detection (HPLC-DAD-MS) was used for the analysis of the most abundant compounds of an Artemisia annua extract exhibiting toxicity to MDA-MB-231 TNBC cells. Artemisinin, 6,7-dimethoxycoumarin, arteannuic acid were not toxic to any of the cancer cell lines tested. The flavonols chrysosplenol d and casticin selectively inhibited the viability of the TNBC cell lines, MDA-MB-231, CAL-51, CAL-148, as well as MCF7, A549, MIA PaCa-2, and PC-3. PC-3 prostate cancer cells exhibiting high basal protein kinase B (AKT) and no ERK1/2 activation were relatively resistant, whereas MDA-MB-231 cells with high basal ERK1/2 and low AKT activity were more sensitive to chrysosplenol d treatment. In vivo, chrysosplenol d and casticin inhibited MDA-MB-231 tumor growth on chick chorioallantoic membranes. Both compounds induced mitochondrial membrane potential loss and apoptosis. Chrysosplenol d activated ERK1/2, but not other kinases tested, increased cytosolic reactive oxygen species (ROS) and induced autophagy in MDA-MB-231 cells. Lysosomal aberrations and toxicity could be antagonized by ERK1/2 inhibition. The Artemisia annua flavonols chrysosplenol d and casticin merit exploration as potential anticancer therapeutics. Full article
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Article
Cost Effective Use of a Thiosulfinate-Enriched Allium sativum Extract in Combination with Chemotherapy in Colon Cancer
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(8), 2766; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21082766 - 16 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1526
Abstract
In this work, we sought to investigate the effects of a thiosulfinate-enriched garlic extract, co-administered with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or oxaliplatin chemotherapy, on the viability of colon cancer cells (Caco-2 and HT-29). We also addressed the economic feasibility of a new combined treatment of [...] Read more.
In this work, we sought to investigate the effects of a thiosulfinate-enriched garlic extract, co-administered with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or oxaliplatin chemotherapy, on the viability of colon cancer cells (Caco-2 and HT-29). We also addressed the economic feasibility of a new combined treatment of this thiosulfinate-enriched garlic extract, with oxaliplatin that could reduce the dosage and costs of a monotherapy. The thiosulfinate-enriched garlic extract not only enhanced the impact of 5-FU and oxaliplatin (500 µM) in decreasing Caco-2 and HT-29 viability, but also showed a higher effect than standard 5-FU and oxaliplatin chemotherapy as anti-cancer agents. These results provided evidences for the combination of lyophilized garlic extract and 5-FU or oxaliplatin as a novel chemotherapy regimen in colon cancer cells that may also reduce the clinical therapy costs. Full article
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Article
Anemarrhenae asphodeloides rhizoma Extract Enriched in Mangiferin Protects PC12 Cells against a Neurotoxic Agent-3-Nitropropionic Acid
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(7), 2510; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21072510 - 04 Apr 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 913
Abstract
The rhizome of Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge, used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a brain function-improving herb, is a promising source of neuroprotective substances. The aim of this study was to evaluate the protective action of xanthones from A. asphodeloides rhizomes on the PC12 [...] Read more.
The rhizome of Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge, used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a brain function-improving herb, is a promising source of neuroprotective substances. The aim of this study was to evaluate the protective action of xanthones from A. asphodeloides rhizomes on the PC12 cell line exposed to the neurotoxic agent—3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP). The xanthone-enriched fraction of the ethanolic extract of A. asphodeloides (abbreviated from now on as XF, for the Xanthone Fraction), rich in polyphenolic xanthone glycosides, in concentrations from 5 to 100 μg/mL, and 3-NP in concentrations from 2.5 to 15 mM, were examined. After 8, 16, 24, 48, and 72 h of exposure of cells to various combinations of 3-NP and XF, the MTT viability assay was performed and morphological changes were estimated by confocal fluorescence microscopy. The obtained results showed a significant increase in the number of cells surviving after treatment with XF with exposure to neurotoxic 3-NP and decreased morphological changes in PC12 cells in a dose and time dependent manner. The most effective protective action was observed when PC12 cells were pre-incubated with the XF. This effect may contribute to the traditional indications of this herb for neurological and cognitive complaints. However, a significant cytotoxicity observed at higher XF concentrations (over 10 µg/mL) and longer incubation time (48 h) requires caution in future research and thorough investigation into potential adverse effects. Full article
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Article
Characterization and Cytotoxicity Assessment of the Lipophilic Fractions of Different Morphological Parts of Acacia dealbata
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(5), 1814; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21051814 - 06 Mar 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1163
Abstract
Acacia dealbata biomass, either from forest exploitation or from the management of invasive species, can be a strategic topic, namely as a source of high-value compounds. In this sense, the present study aimed at the detailed characterization of the lipophilic components of different [...] Read more.
Acacia dealbata biomass, either from forest exploitation or from the management of invasive species, can be a strategic topic, namely as a source of high-value compounds. In this sense, the present study aimed at the detailed characterization of the lipophilic components of different morphological parts of A. dealbata and the evaluation of their cytotoxicity in cells representative of different mammals’ tissues. The chemical composition of lipophilic extracts from A. dealbata bark, wood and leaves was evaluated using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC–MS). Terpenic compounds (representing 50.2%–68.4% of the total bark and leaves extracts, respectively) and sterols (60.5% of the total wood extract) were the main components of these extracts. Other constituents, such as fatty acids, long-chain aliphatic alcohols, monoglycerides, and aromatic compounds were also detected in the studied extracts. All the extracts showed low or no cytotoxicity in the different cells tested, demonstrating their safety profile and highlighting their potential to be used in nutraceutical or pharmaceutical applications. This study is therefore an important contribution to the valorization of A. dealbata, demonstrating the potential of this species as a source of high value lipophilic compounds. Full article
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Article
Physcion-Matured Dendritic Cells Induce the Differentiation of Th1 Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(5), 1753; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21051753 - 04 Mar 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 928
Abstract
In addition to their use as colorants, anthraquinone derivatives have numerous medical applications, for example, as antibacterial and antiinflammatory agents. We confirmed that physcion (an anthraquinone derivative) induces TNF-alpha production by macrophages and increased the expressions of surface molecules (CD40, CD80, and CD86) [...] Read more.
In addition to their use as colorants, anthraquinone derivatives have numerous medical applications, for example, as antibacterial and antiinflammatory agents. We confirmed that physcion (an anthraquinone derivative) induces TNF-alpha production by macrophages and increased the expressions of surface molecules (CD40, CD80, and CD86) and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II. Based on these results, we hypothesized that physcion might induce the maturation of dendritic cells (DCs) to antigen-presenting cells (APCs), and decided to conduct in vitro experiments using bone-marrow-derived DCs (BMDCs). Physcion was not toxic to DCs and increased the expression of surface molecules (e.g., CD40, CD80, CD86, and MHC II) and the production of cytokines (e.g., IL-12p70, IL-1beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha), but not of IL-10. To confirm that DCs matured by physcion induce T-cell-immune responses, naive CD4+ T cells were treated with physcion-treated DCs or their supernatants. Physcion induced the maturation of DCs, which promoted the polarization of Th1 cells. Our results show physcion-induced DC maturation via TLR4, and that mature DCs promote the differentiation of Th1 cells without affecting the differentiation of Th2 cells. These findings show that physcion has potential use as a treatment for inflammatory diseases associated with Th1/Th2 cell imbalance. Full article
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Article
Cordycepin Resensitizes T24R2 Cisplatin-Resistant Human Bladder Cancer Cells to Cisplatin by Inactivating Ets-1 Dependent MDR1 Transcription
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(5), 1710; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21051710 - 02 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1332
Abstract
Tumor cell resistance to anti-cancer drugs is a major obstacle in tumor therapy. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of cordycepin-mediated resensitization to cisplatin in T24R2 cells, a T24-derived cell line. Treatment with cordycepin or cisplatin (2 μg/mL) alone failed to induce [...] Read more.
Tumor cell resistance to anti-cancer drugs is a major obstacle in tumor therapy. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of cordycepin-mediated resensitization to cisplatin in T24R2 cells, a T24-derived cell line. Treatment with cordycepin or cisplatin (2 μg/mL) alone failed to induce cell death in T24R2 cells, but combination treatment with these drugs significantly induced apoptosis through mitochondrial pathways, including depolarization of mitochondrial membranes, decrease in anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and Mcl-1, and increase in pro-apoptotic proteins Bak and Bax. High expression levels of MDR1 were the cause of cisplatin resistance in T24R2 cells, and cordycepin significantly reduced MDR1 expression through inhibition of MDR1 promoter activity. MDR1 promoter activity was dependent on transcription factor Ets-1 in T24R2 cells. Although correlation exists between MDR1 and Ets-1 expression in bladder cancer patients, active Ets-1, Thr38 phosphorylated form (pThr38), was critical to induce MDR1 expression. Cordycepin decreased pThr-38 Ets-1 levels and reduced MDR1 transcription, probably through its effects on PI3K signaling, inducing the resensitization of T24R2 cells to cisplatin. The results suggest that cordycepin effectively resensitizes cisplatin-resistant bladder cancer cells to cisplatin, thus serving as a potential strategy for treatment of cancer in patients with resistance to anti-cancer drugs. Full article
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Review
New Insights into the Biological and Pharmaceutical Properties of Royal Jelly
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(2), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21020382 - 08 Jan 2020
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 3675
Abstract
Royal jelly (RJ) is a yellowish-white and acidic secretion of hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands of nurse bees used to feed young worker larvae during the first three days and the entire life of queen bees. RJ is one of the most appreciated and [...] Read more.
Royal jelly (RJ) is a yellowish-white and acidic secretion of hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands of nurse bees used to feed young worker larvae during the first three days and the entire life of queen bees. RJ is one of the most appreciated and valued natural product which has been mainly used in traditional medicines, health foods, and cosmetics for a long time in different parts of the world. It is also the most studied bee product, aimed at unravelling its bioactivities, such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-aging, immunomodulatory, and general tonic action against laboratory animals, microbial organisms, farm animals, and clinical trials. It is commonly used to supplement various diseases, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, and Alzheimer’s disease. Here, we highlight the recent research advances on the main bioactive compounds of RJ, such as proteins, peptides, fatty acids, and phenolics, for a comprehensive understanding of the biochemistry, biological, and pharmaceutical responses to human health promotion and life benefits. This is potentially important to gain novel insight into the biological and pharmaceutical properties of RJ. Full article
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2019

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Review
Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(1), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21010163 - 25 Dec 2019
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 5835
Abstract
Depression is a common and severe neuropsychiatric disorder that is one of the leading causes of global disease burden. Although various anti-depressants are currently available, their efficacies are barely adequate and many have side effects. Hericium erinaceus, also known as Lion’s mane mushroom, [...] Read more.
Depression is a common and severe neuropsychiatric disorder that is one of the leading causes of global disease burden. Although various anti-depressants are currently available, their efficacies are barely adequate and many have side effects. Hericium erinaceus, also known as Lion’s mane mushroom, has been shown to have various health benefits, including antioxidative, antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihyperglycemic, and hypolipidemic effects. It has been used to treat cognitive impairment, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Bioactive compounds extracted from the mycelia and fruiting bodies of H. erinaceus have been found to promote the expression of neurotrophic factors that are associated with cell proliferation such as nerve growth factors. Although antidepressant effects of H. erinaceus have not been validated and compared to the conventional antidepressants, based on the neurotrophic and neurogenic pathophysiology of depression, H. erinaceus may be a potential alternative medicine for the treatment of depression. This article critically reviews the current literature on the potential benefits of H. erinaceus as a treatment for depressive disorder as well as its mechanisms underlying the antidepressant-like activities. Full article
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Article
Mechanistic Insights into Oxidative Stress and Apoptosis Mediated by Tannic Acid in Human Liver Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(24), 6145; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20246145 - 05 Dec 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 962
Abstract
The study investigated the cytotoxic effect of a natural polyphenolic compound Tannic acid (TA) on human liver hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cells and elucidated the possible mechanisms that lead to apoptosis and oxidative stress HepG2 cell. The HepG2 cells were treated with TA for [...] Read more.
The study investigated the cytotoxic effect of a natural polyphenolic compound Tannic acid (TA) on human liver hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cells and elucidated the possible mechanisms that lead to apoptosis and oxidative stress HepG2 cell. The HepG2 cells were treated with TA for 24 h and various assays were conducted to determine whether TA could induce cell death and oxidative stress. The cell viability assay was used to determine the half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50), caspase activity and cellular ATP were determined by luminometry. Microscopy was employed to determine deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) integrity, while thiobarbituric acid (TBARS) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) assays were used to elucidate cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS), respectively. Western blotting was used to confirm protein expression. The results revealed that tannic acid induced caspase activation and increased the presence of cellular ROS and RNS, while downregulating antioxidant expression. Tannic acid also showed increased cell death and increased DNA fragmentation. In conclusion, TA was able to induce apoptosis by DNA fragmentation via caspase-dependent and caspase-independent mechanism. It was also able to induce oxidative stress, consequently contributing to cell death. Full article
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Article
Bovine Lactoferrin Pre-Treatment Induces Intracellular Killing of AIEC LF82 and Reduces Bacteria-Induced DNA Damage in Differentiated Human Enterocytes
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(22), 5666; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20225666 - 12 Nov 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 892
Abstract
LF82, a prototype of adherent-invasive E. coli (AIEC), is able to adhere to, invade, survive and replicate into intestinal epithelial cells. LF82 is able to enhance either its adhesion and invasion by up-regulating carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule 6 (CEACAM-6), the main cell [...] Read more.
LF82, a prototype of adherent-invasive E. coli (AIEC), is able to adhere to, invade, survive and replicate into intestinal epithelial cells. LF82 is able to enhance either its adhesion and invasion by up-regulating carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule 6 (CEACAM-6), the main cell surface molecule for bacterial adhesion, and its intracellular survival by inducing host DNA damage, thus blocking the cellular cycle. Lactoferrin (Lf) is a multifunctional cationic glycoprotein of natural immunity, exerting an anti-invasive activity against LF82 when added to Caco-2 cells at the moment of infection. Here, the infection of 12 h Lf pre-treated Caco-2 cells was carried out at a time of 0 or 3 or 10 h after Lf removal from culture medium. The effect of Lf pre-treatment on LF82 invasiveness, survival, cell DNA damage, CEACAM-6 expression, apoptosis induction, as well as on Lf subcellular localization, has been evaluated. Lf, even if removed from culture medium, reduced LF82 invasion and survival as well as bacteria-induced DNA damage in Caco-2 cells independently from induction of apoptosis, modulation of CEACAM-6 expression and Lf sub-cellular localization. At our knowledge, this is the first study showing that the sole Lf pre-treatment can activate protective intracellular pathways, reducing LF82 invasiveness, intracellular survival and cell–DNA damages. Full article
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Article
The Positive Effects of Grifola frondosa Heteropolysaccharide on NAFLD and Regulation of the Gut Microbiota
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(21), 5302; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20215302 - 24 Oct 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1375
Abstract
: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a major public health problem in many countries. In this study, the ability of Grifola frondosa heteropolysaccharide (GFP) to ameliorate NAFLD was investigated in rats fed a high-fat diet (HFD). The molecular mechanisms modulating the expression [...] Read more.
: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a major public health problem in many countries. In this study, the ability of Grifola frondosa heteropolysaccharide (GFP) to ameliorate NAFLD was investigated in rats fed a high-fat diet (HFD). The molecular mechanisms modulating the expression of specific gene members related to lipid synthesis and conversion, cholesterol metabolism, and inflammation pathways were determined. The components of the intestinal microflora in rats were analyzed by high-throughput next-generation 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Supplementation with GFP significantly increased the proportions of Allobaculum, Bacteroides, and Bifidobacterium and decreased the proportions of Acetatifactor, Alistipes, Flavonifractor, Paraprevotella, and Oscillibacter. In addition, Alistipes, Flavonifractor, and Oscillibacter were shown to be significant cecal microbiota according to the Spearman’s correlation test between the gut microbiota and biomedical assays (|r| > 0.7). Histological analysis and biomedical assays showed that GFP treatments could significantly protect against NAFLD. In addition, Alistipes, Flavonifractor, and Oscillibacter may play vital roles in the prevention of NAFLD. These results suggest that GFP could be used as a functional material to regulate the gut microbiota of NAFLD individuals. Full article
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Article
Ursolic Acid Suppresses Cholesterol Biosynthesis and Exerts Anti-Cancer Effects in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(19), 4767; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20194767 - 26 Sep 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1227
Abstract
Abnormally upregulated cholesterol and lipid metabolism, observed commonly in multiple cancer types, contributes to cancer development and progression through the activation of oncogenic growth signaling pathways. Although accumulating evidence has shown the preventive and therapeutic benefits of cholesterol-lowering drugs for cancer management, the [...] Read more.
Abnormally upregulated cholesterol and lipid metabolism, observed commonly in multiple cancer types, contributes to cancer development and progression through the activation of oncogenic growth signaling pathways. Although accumulating evidence has shown the preventive and therapeutic benefits of cholesterol-lowering drugs for cancer management, the development of cholesterol-lowering drugs is needed for treatment of cancer as well as metabolism-related chronic diseases. Ursolic acid (UA), a natural pentacyclic terpenoid, suppresses cancer growth and metastasis, but the precise underlying molecular mechanism for its anti-cancer effects is poorly understood. Here, using sterol regulatory element (SRE)-luciferase assay-based screening on a library of 502 natural compounds, this study found that UA activates sterol regulatory element-binding protein 2 (SREBP2). The expression of cholesterol biosynthesis-related genes and enzymes increased in UA-treated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells. The UA increased cell cycle arrest and apoptotic death in HCC cells and reduced the activation of oncogenic growth signaling factors, all of which was significantly reversed by cholesterol supplementation. As cholesterol supplementation successfully reversed UA-induced attenuation of growth in HCC cells, it indicated that UA suppresses HCC cells growth through its cholesterol-lowering effect. Overall, these results suggested that UA is a promising cholesterol-lowering nutraceutical for the prevention and treatment of patients with HCC and cholesterol-related chronic diseases. Full article
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