Special Issue "Biological Efficacy of Natural Products against Noncommunicable Diseases"

A special issue of Medicines (ISSN 2305-6320).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Sara Vitalini Website E-Mail
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Milan State University, Milan, Italy
Interests: Phytotherapeutics; Bioactive Phytochemicals; Ethnopharmacology; Ethnobotany; Alternative medicine; Medicinal plants
Guest Editor
Prof. Marcello Iriti Website E-Mail
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Milan State University, Milan, Italy
Interests: Medicinal plants; Bioactive phytochemicals; Phytotherapy

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

According to the World Health Organization, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases and diabetes, are responsible for almost 70% of all deaths worldwide. The rapid rise of NCDs has been driven by a number of (modifiable) behavioral risk factors, such as unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, exposure to tobacco smoke and the harmful use of alcoholic beverages, in addition to environmental (air pollutants), occupational (carcinogens, particulates, gases, fumes) and metabolic (hypertension, overweight/obesity, hyperglycemia, hypercholesterolemia) risk factors. Nowadays, the epidemic of NCDs poses devastating health consequences for individuals, families and communities, threatening to overwhelm health systems, particularly in low-income countries.

In this complex scenario, innovative therapeutic approaches are more than ever of paramount importance, including the use of natural products as the lead compounds for drug discovery, adjuvant agents in combination with conventional therapeutics to increase efficacy and/or reduce adverse effects, chemosensitizers or radiosensitizers in anticancer therapies. It is noteworthy that the rationale for using natural products relies on their multitarget mechanisms of action, which are of particular interest in the treatment of diseases with a multistage pathogenesis.

In this very wide context, we invite investigators to submit both original research and review articles that explore all these aspects, including preclinical (in vitro/in vivo) and in human studies (clinical trials, epidemiological studies, systematic reviews and meta-analyses).

Potential topics include, but are not limited to: formulation, evaluation of efficacy and mechanism of action, oral bioavailability, pharmacokinetics and the pharmacodynamics of natural products.

Dr. Sara Vitalini
Prof. Dr. Marcello Iriti
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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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. Medicines is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). 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

  • chronic degenerative diseases
  • medicinal plants
  • herbal remedies
  • bioactive phytochemicals
  • phytotherapeutics
  • botanicals
  • nutraceuticals
  • marine drugs
  • fungal metabolites
  • animal metabolites

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Methylamine Activates Glucose Uptake in Human Adipocytes Without Overpassing Action of Insulin or Stimulating its Secretion in Pancreatic Islets
Medicines 2019, 6(3), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines6030089 - 12 Aug 2019
Abstract
Background: Methylamine, a natural soluble amine present in foods, is known to be a substrate of primary amine oxidase (PrAO) widely expressed in animal tissues. Methylamine has been reported to activate glucose transport in fat cells and to facilitate glucose disposal in rabbits [...] Read more.
Background: Methylamine, a natural soluble amine present in foods, is known to be a substrate of primary amine oxidase (PrAO) widely expressed in animal tissues. Methylamine has been reported to activate glucose transport in fat cells and to facilitate glucose disposal in rabbits but the interests and limits of such insulin-mimicking actions have not been further explored. This work aimed to perform a preclinical study of the inter-individual variations of these biological properties to study the putative link between PrAO activity and insulin resistance. Methods: Methylamine was tested on human adipocyte preparations and in rabbit pancreatic islets to determine its influence on glucose uptake and insulin release, respectively. PrAO activity and related responses were determined in adipose tissues obtained from two cohorts of non-obese and obese women. Results: Adipose tissue PrAO activity was negatively correlated with insulin resistance in high-risk obese women. PrAO-dependent activation of glucose uptake was negatively correlated with body mass index and reflected the decrease of insulin responsiveness of human fat cells with increasing obesity. Methylamine exhibited antilipolytic properties in adipocytes but was unable to directly activate insulin secretion in isolated pancreatic islets. Conclusions: PrAO activation by its substrates, e.g., methylamine, increases glucose utilization in human adipocytes in a manner that is linked to insulin responsiveness. Methylamine/PrAO interaction can therefore contribute to adipose tissue enlargement but should be considered as potentially useful for diabetes prevention since it could limit lipotoxicity and facilitate glucose handling, at the expense of favoring healthy fat accumulation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Reduction of Inflammation and Colon Injury by a Spearmint Phenolic Extract in Experimental Bowel Disease in Mice
Medicines 2019, 6(2), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines6020065 - 06 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) encompasses both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, known to be connected to an enlarged risk for developing colorectal cancer (CRC). Spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) is a Mediterranean plant used as an aromatic agent, and studies have [...] Read more.
Background: Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) encompasses both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, known to be connected to an enlarged risk for developing colorectal cancer (CRC). Spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) is a Mediterranean plant used as an aromatic agent, and studies have mainly focused on the essential oil suggesting an anti-inflammatory activity. This work aimed to perform a preliminary screening of the in vivo anti-inflammatory effects of a spearmint phenolic extract in an acute inflammation model, in a chronic inflammation model of colitis, and also study the effects in vitro on a colon cancer model. Methods: Spearmint extract was administered to rats of a paw oedema model (induced by carrageenan) and to mice from a TNBS-induced colitis model in parallel with studies using HT-29 CRC cells. Results: Administration of the extract led to reduced paw inflammation, reduction of colon injury and inflammation, with attenuation of histological markers, and reduction of iNOS expression. It repressed the in vitro movement of HT-29 cells in a wound healing assay. Conclusions: These findings suggest that spearmint extract exhibits acute and chronic anti-inflammatory activity and is able to inhibit migration of cancer cells, suggesting a potential role in the supplementary therapy of IBD patients. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Zebrafish as an Emerging Model for Bioassay-Guided Natural Product Drug Discovery for Neurological Disorders
Medicines 2019, 6(2), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines6020061 - 30 May 2019
Abstract
Most neurodegenerative diseases are currently incurable, with large social and economic impacts. Recently, there has been renewed interest in investigating natural products in the modern drug discovery paradigm as novel, bioactive small molecules. Moreover, the discovery of potential therapies for neurological disorders is [...] Read more.
Most neurodegenerative diseases are currently incurable, with large social and economic impacts. Recently, there has been renewed interest in investigating natural products in the modern drug discovery paradigm as novel, bioactive small molecules. Moreover, the discovery of potential therapies for neurological disorders is challenging and involves developing optimized animal models for drug screening. In contemporary biomedicine, the growing need to develop experimental models to obtain a detailed understanding of malady conditions and to portray pioneering treatments has resulted in the application of zebrafish to close the gap between in vitro and in vivo assays. Zebrafish in pharmacogenetics and neuropharmacology are rapidly becoming a widely used organism. Brain function, dysfunction, genetic, and pharmacological modulation considerations are enhanced by both larval and adult zebrafish. Bioassay-guided identification of natural products using zebrafish presents as an attractive strategy for generating new lead compounds. Here, we see evidence that the zebrafish’s central nervous system is suitable for modeling human neurological disease and we review and evaluate natural product research using zebrafish as a vertebrate model platform to systematically identify bioactive natural products. Finally, we review recently developed zebrafish models of neurological disorders that have the potential to be applied in this field of research. Full article
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