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Special Issue "Advances in Natural Products for Application in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Bioactives and Nutraceuticals".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Seung-Hong Lee
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Pharmaceutical Engineering, Soonchunhyang University, Asan, Korea
Interests: natural products nutraceuticals; cosmeceuticals; pharmaceuticals; bioactive compounds; marine organisms; phytomedicine
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Natural products are small molecules produced naturally by any organism, including primary and secondary metabolites. Natural products have a wide range of possible applications, such as in biomedicine and pharmacotherapy, and can be useful in the treatment and management various kinds of human diseases due to their outstanding biological properties. Moreover, bioactive compounds and pharmaceuticals derived from natural products have received increasing attention due to their considerable benefits for human health. This Special Issue will shape the future research direction of important natural products as well as related bioactives. Our purpose is to feature high-quality, advanced research and knowledge contributed by various research groups working on natural products from all around the world. This Special Issue invite researchers to contribute reviews and original research reports of their recent work on the functional and medicinal properties of natural products.

This Special Issue will include recent advances in the natural products with significant potential benefits for human health, including on the following topics: natural products for preventing and managing human diseases; the importance of nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals derived from natural products for human health and skin aging; bioactivity and mechanism of action of natural products; new strategies of using natural drugs for promoting human health; biotechnology for yielding bioactive components from the natural products.

Prof. Dr. Seung-Hong Lee
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • natural products
  • biomedicine
  • pharmacotherapy
  • bioactive compounds
  • human health
  • skin aging

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Vitamin D and Beta-Glucans Synergically Stimulate Human Macrophage Activity
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(9), 4869; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22094869 - 04 May 2021
Viewed by 603
Abstract
Vitamin D and beta-glucans are both immunostimulants. Vitamin D exerts its beneficial effects on many components of the immune system. In macrophages, the hormone modulates both phagocytic activity and cytokine production; therefore, it plays an important role in mediating the innate immune response [...] Read more.
Vitamin D and beta-glucans are both immunostimulants. Vitamin D exerts its beneficial effects on many components of the immune system. In macrophages, the hormone modulates both phagocytic activity and cytokine production; therefore, it plays an important role in mediating the innate immune response to infection. The immunomodulatory properties of beta-glucans are attributed to the ability of these fungal cell wall polysaccharides to bind to different receptors expressed on the cell surface of phagocytic and cytotoxic innate immune cells, including monocytes and macrophages. The intracellular signaling pathways activated by beta-glucans lead to enhanced phagocytosis and cytokine response. In this study we investigated the possible potentiation of immunomodulatory properties of the combined treatment with vitamin D and beta-glucans. The effects of 100 nM 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 or 100 µg/mL beta-glucans were evaluated in human macrophages in terms of cytokine production, intracellular vesicle acidification and changes in energy metabolism, three hallmarks of macrophage antimicrobial activation. We found that all the analyzed parameters were enhanced by the co-treatment compared to the response to single molecules. The results of this study support the validity of a novel therapeutic approach that could boost the immune response, taking advantage of the synergy between two natural compounds. Full article
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Article
Protocatechuic Aldehyde Inhibits α-MSH-Induced Melanogenesis in B16F10 Melanoma Cells via PKA/CREB-Associated MITF Downregulation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(8), 3861; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22083861 - 08 Apr 2021
Viewed by 483
Abstract
Protocatechuic aldehyde (PA) is a naturally occurring phenolic compound that is a potent inhibitor of mushroom tyrosinase. However, the molecular mechanisms of the anti-melanogenesis activity of PA have not yet been reported. The aim of the current study was to clarify the melanogenesis [...] Read more.
Protocatechuic aldehyde (PA) is a naturally occurring phenolic compound that is a potent inhibitor of mushroom tyrosinase. However, the molecular mechanisms of the anti-melanogenesis activity of PA have not yet been reported. The aim of the current study was to clarify the melanogenesis inhibitory effects of PA and its molecular mechanisms in murine melanoma cells (B16F10). We first predicted the 3D structure of tyrosinase and used a molecular docking algorithm to simulate binding between tyrosinase and PA. These molecular modeling studies calculated a binding energy of −527.42 kcal/mol and indicated that PA interacts with Cu400 and 401, Val283, and His263. Furthermore, PA significantly decreased α-MSH-induced intracellular tyrosinase activity and melanin content in a dose-dependent manner. PA also inhibited key melanogenic proteins such as tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TRP-1), and TRP-2 in α-MSH-stimulated B16F10 cells. In addition, PA decreased MITF expression levels by inhibiting phosphorylation of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA). These results demonstrate that PA can effectively suppress melanin synthesis in melanoma cells. Taken together, our results show that PA could serve as a potential inhibitor of melanogenesis, and hence could be explored as a possible skin-lightening agent. Full article
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Article
Marine Collagen Hydrolysates Promote Collagen Synthesis, Viability and Proliferation While Downregulating the Synthesis of Pro-Catabolic Markers in Human Articular Chondrocytes
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(7), 3693; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22073693 - 01 Apr 2021
Viewed by 617
Abstract
Cartilage is a non-innervated and non-vascularized tissue. It is composed of one main cell type, the chondrocyte, which governs homeostasis within the cartilage tissue, but has low metabolic activity. Articular cartilage undergoes substantial stresses that lead to chondral defects, and inevitably osteoarthritis (OA) [...] Read more.
Cartilage is a non-innervated and non-vascularized tissue. It is composed of one main cell type, the chondrocyte, which governs homeostasis within the cartilage tissue, but has low metabolic activity. Articular cartilage undergoes substantial stresses that lead to chondral defects, and inevitably osteoarthritis (OA) due to the low intrinsic repair capacity of cartilage. OA remains an incurable degenerative disease. In this context, several dietary supplements have shown promising results, notably in the relief of OA symptoms. In this study, we investigated the effects of collagen hydrolysates derived from fish skin (Promerim®30 and Promerim®60) and fish cartilage (Promerim®40) on the phenotype and metabolism of human articular chondrocytes (HACs). First, we demonstrated the safety of Promerim® hydrolysates on HACs cultured in monolayers. Then we showed that, Promerim® hydrolysates can increase the HAC viability and proliferation, while decreasing HAC SA-β-galactosidase activity. To evaluate the effect of Promerim® on a more relevant model of culture, HAC were cultured as organoids in the presence of Promerim® hydrolysates with or without IL-1β to mimic an OA environment. In such conditions, Promerim® hydrolysates led to a decrease in the transcript levels of some proteases that play a major role in the development of OA, such as Htra1 and metalloproteinase-1. Promerim® hydrolysates downregulated HtrA1 protein expression. In contrast, the treatment of cartilage organoids with Promerim® hydrolysates increased the neosynthesis of type I collagen (Promerim®30, 40 and 60) and type II collagen isoforms (Promerim®30 and 40), the latter being the major characteristic component of the cartilage extracellular matrix. Altogether, our results demonstrate that the use of Promerim® hydrolysates hold promise as complementary dietary supplements in combination with the current classical treatments or as a preventive therapy to delay the occurrence of OA in humans. Full article
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Article
Marine Collagen Hydrolysates Downregulate the Synthesis of Pro-Catabolic and Pro-Inflammatory Markers of Osteoarthritis and Favor Collagen Production and Metabolic Activity in Equine Articular Chondrocyte Organoids
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(2), 580; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22020580 - 08 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 747
Abstract
Articular cartilage experiences mechanical constraints leading to chondral defects that inevitably evolve into osteoarthritis (OA), because cartilage has poor intrinsic repair capacity. Although OA is an incurable degenerative disease, several dietary supplements may help improve OA outcomes. In this study, we investigated the [...] Read more.
Articular cartilage experiences mechanical constraints leading to chondral defects that inevitably evolve into osteoarthritis (OA), because cartilage has poor intrinsic repair capacity. Although OA is an incurable degenerative disease, several dietary supplements may help improve OA outcomes. In this study, we investigated the effects of Dielen® hydrolyzed fish collagens from skin (Promerim®30 and Promerim®60) and cartilage (Promerim®40) to analyze the phenotype and metabolism of equine articular chondrocytes (eACs) cultured as organoids. Here, our findings demonstrated the absence of cytotoxicity and the beneficial effect of Promerim® hydrolysates on eAC metabolic activity under physioxia; further, Promerim®30 also delayed eAC senescence. To assess the effect of Promerim® in a cartilage-like tissue, eACs were cultured as organoids under hypoxia with or without BMP-2 and/or IL-1β. In some instances, alone or in the presence of IL-1β, Promerim®30 and Promerim®40 increased protein synthesis of collagen types I and II, while decreasing transcript levels of proteases involved in OA pathogenesis, namely Htra1, and the metalloproteinases Mmp1-3, Adamts5, and Cox2. Both Promerim® hydrolysates also decreased Htra1 protein amounts, particularly in inflammatory conditions. The effect of Promerim® was enhanced under inflammatory conditions, possibly due to a decrease in the synthesis of inflammation-associated molecules. Finally, Promerim® favored in vitro repair in a scratch wound assay through an increase in cell proliferation or migration. Altogether, these data show that Promerim®30 and 40 hold promise as dietary supplements to relieve OA symptoms in patients and to delay OA progression. Full article
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Article
1-Cinnamoyltrichilinin from Melia azedarach Causes Apoptosis through the p38 MAPK Pathway in HL-60 Human Leukemia Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(20), 7506; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21207506 - 12 Oct 2020
Viewed by 582
Abstract
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive type of human leukemia with a low survival rate, and its complete remission remains challenging. Although chemotherapy is the first-line treatment of AML, it exerts toxicity in noncancerous cells when used in high doses, thus necessitating [...] Read more.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive type of human leukemia with a low survival rate, and its complete remission remains challenging. Although chemotherapy is the first-line treatment of AML, it exerts toxicity in noncancerous cells when used in high doses, thus necessitating the development of novel compounds with a high therapeutic window. This study aimed to investigate the anticancer effects of several compounds derived from the fruits of Melia azedarach (a tree with medicinal properties). Among them, 1-cinnamoyltrichilinin (CT) was found to strongly suppress the viability of HL-60 human leukemia cells. CT treatment induced apoptosis and increased nuclear fragmentation and fractional DNA content in HL-60 cells in a dose-dependent manner. CT induced phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases (p38), though not of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and activated Bcl-2 family proteins towards the proapoptosis and cleavage of caspase-3 and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. Both CT-mediated apoptosis and apoptotic protein expression were reversed by treatment with the p38 inhibitor, thereby indicating the p38 pathway to be critical in CT-stimulated apoptosis. The results collectively indicated CT to suppress HL-60 survival by activating the p38 pathway and inducing apoptosis, hence being a novel potential therapeutic agent for AML. Full article
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Article
Protocatechuic Aldehyde Attenuates UVA-induced Photoaging in Human Dermal Fibroblast Cells by Suppressing MAPKs/AP-1 and NF-κB Signaling Pathways
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(13), 4619; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21134619 - 29 Jun 2020
Viewed by 892
Abstract
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a major causative factor of DNA damage, inflammatory responses, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and a turnover of various cutaneous lesions resulting in skin photoaging. The purpose of this study is to investigate the protective effect of protocatechuic aldehyde [...] Read more.
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a major causative factor of DNA damage, inflammatory responses, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and a turnover of various cutaneous lesions resulting in skin photoaging. The purpose of this study is to investigate the protective effect of protocatechuic aldehyde (PA), which is a nature-derived compound, against UVA-induced photoaging by using human dermal fibroblast (HDF) cells. In this study, our results indicated that PA significantly reduced the levels of intracellular ROS, nitric oxide (NO), and prostaglandins-E2 (PGE2) in UVA-irradiated HDF cells. It also inhibited the levels of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression. Besides, PA significantly suppressed the expression of matrix metalloproteinases-1 (MMP-1) and pro-inflammatory cytokines and promoted collagen synthesis in the UVA-irradiated HDF cells. These events occurred through the regulation of activator protein 1 (AP-1), nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), and p38 signaling pathways in UVA-irradiated HDF cells. Our findings suggest that PA enhances the protective effect of UVA-irradiated photoaging, which is associated with ROS scavenging, anti-wrinkle, and anti-inflammatory activities. Therefore, PA can be a potential candidate for the provision of a protective effect against UVA-stimulated photoaging in the pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical industries. Full article
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Review

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Review
Natural Polyphenols as Modulators of Etoposide Anti-Cancer Activity
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(12), 6602; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22126602 - 20 Jun 2021
Viewed by 245
Abstract
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds found in abundance in fruits and vegetables. Their health-promoting properties and their use in the prevention and treatment of many human diseases, including cancer, have been known for years. Many anti-cancer drugs are derived from these natural compounds. [...] Read more.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds found in abundance in fruits and vegetables. Their health-promoting properties and their use in the prevention and treatment of many human diseases, including cancer, have been known for years. Many anti-cancer drugs are derived from these natural compounds. Etoposide, which is a semi-synthetic derivative of podophyllotoxin, a non-alkaloid lignan isolated from the dried roots and rhizomes of Podophyllum peltatum or Podophyllum emodi (Berberidaceae), is an example of such a compound. In this review, we present data on the effects of polyphenols on the anti-cancer activity of etoposide in in vitro and in vivo studies. Full article
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Review
Epigallocatechin Gallate for Management of Heavy Metal-Induced Oxidative Stress: Mechanisms of Action, Efficacy, and Concerns
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(8), 4027; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22084027 - 14 Apr 2021
Viewed by 381
Abstract
In this review, we highlight the effects of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) against toxicities induced by heavy metals (HMs). This most active green tea polyphenol was demonstrated to reduce HM toxicity in such cells and tissues as testis, liver, kidney, and neural cells. Several [...] Read more.
In this review, we highlight the effects of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) against toxicities induced by heavy metals (HMs). This most active green tea polyphenol was demonstrated to reduce HM toxicity in such cells and tissues as testis, liver, kidney, and neural cells. Several protective mechanisms that seem to play a pivotal role in EGCG-induced effects, including reactive oxygen species scavenging, HM chelation, activation of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), anti-inflammatory effects, and protection of mitochondria, are described. However, some studies, especially in vitro experiments, reported potentiation of harmful HM actions in the presence of EGCG. The adverse impact of EGCG on HM toxicity may be explained by such events as autooxidation of EGCG, EGCG-mediated iron (Fe3+) reduction, depletion of intracellular glutathione (GSH) levels, and disruption of mitochondrial functions. Furthermore, challenges hampering the potential EGCG application related to its low bioavailability and proper dosing are also discussed. Overall, in this review, we point out insights into mechanisms that might account for both the beneficial and adverse effects of EGCG in HM poisoning, which may have a bearing on the design of new therapeutics for HM intoxication therapy. Full article
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Review
The Potential Anticancer Activity of Phytoconstituents against Gastric Cancer—A Review on In Vitro, In Vivo, and Clinical Studies
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(21), 8307; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21218307 - 05 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 660
Abstract
Gastric cancer belongs to the heterogeneous malignancies and, according to the World Health Organization, it is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. The aim of this review is to provide an overview on the role of natural products of plant origin [...] Read more.
Gastric cancer belongs to the heterogeneous malignancies and, according to the World Health Organization, it is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. The aim of this review is to provide an overview on the role of natural products of plant origin in the therapy of gastric cancer and to present the potentially active metabolites which can be used in the natural therapeutical strategies as the support to the conventional treatment. Many of the naturally spread secondary metabolites have been proved to exhibit chemopreventive properties when tested on the cell lines or in vivo. This manuscript aims to discuss the pharmacological significance of both the total extracts and the single isolated metabolites in the stomach cancer prevention and to focus on their mechanisms of action. A wide variety of plant-derived anticancer metabolites from different groups presented in the manuscript that include polyphenols, terpenes, alkaloids, or sulphur-containing compounds, underlines the multidirectional nature of natural products. Full article
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