Phytochemistry Reviews (v.9, #3)

Metabolic constituents of grapevine and grape-derived products by Kashif Ali; Federica Maltese; Young Hae Choi; Robert Verpoorte (357-378).
The numerous uses of the grapevine fruit, especially for wine and beverages, have made it one of the most important plants worldwide. The phytochemistry of grapevine is rich in a wide range of compounds. Many of them are renowned for their numerous medicinal uses. The production of grapevine metabolites is highly conditioned by many factors like environment or pathogen attack. Some grapevine phytoalexins have gained a great deal of attention due to their antimicrobial activities, being also involved in the induction of resistance in grapevine against those pathogens. Meanwhile grapevine biotechnology is still evolving, thanks to the technological advance of modern science, and biotechnologists are making huge efforts to produce grapevine cultivars of desired characteristics. In this paper, important metabolites from grapevine and grape derived products like wine will be reviewed with their health promoting effects and their role against certain stress factors in grapevine physiology.
Keywords: Grapevine; Medicinal importance; Phytochemistry; Resistance

Over the past decade, herbal medicine has become an item of global importance, with both medicinal and economic implications. Thus, accurate scientific assessment has become a prerequisite for acceptance of herbal health claims. The plants of genus Ailanthus, belong to the family Simaroubaceae, is widely used in Ayurveda and evidence-based phytotherapy. Several species of the genus Ailanthus are widely distributed over Asia and north Australia and studied extensively over the last few decades. A compilation of the constituents isolated from different Ailanthus species covering the literature up to December 2008 is presented in the review. The botanical classification and ethno-pharmacology of Ailanthus plants, as well as the biological activities and pharmacological applications of both distinct phytochemicals and active plant materials (formulations, extracts etc.), are discussed in detail.
Keywords: Ailanthus ; Simaroubaceae; Alkaloids; Quassinoids; Steroids; Flavonoids; Biological activity

Tricin—a potential multifunctional nutraceutical by Jian-Min Zhou; Ragai K. Ibrahim (413-424).
This review throws light on the natural occurrence and distribution of tricin (5,7,4′-trihydroxy-3′,5′-dimethoxyflavone) and its conjugated forms, as more common natural plant constituents than previously known. It examines the current literature dealing with its biosynthesis, regulation, biological significance, pharmacological effects, and potential role as a chemopreventive and anticancer agent. Because of its common occurrence in cereal grain plants and the wide spectrum of its health promoting effects, a metabolic engineering strategy is proposed to produce tricin in sufficient amounts for further experimentation, and increase its accumulation in wheat grain endosperm as a nutraceutical.
Keywords: Tricin; Natural occurrence; Biology; Metabolic engineering; Nutraceutical

Saponins as cytotoxic agents: a review by Irma Podolak; Agnieszka Galanty; Danuta Sobolewska (425-474).
Saponins are natural glycosides which possess a wide range of pharmacological properties including cytotoxic activity. In this review, the recent studies (2005–2009) concerning the cytotoxic activity of saponins have been summarized. The correlations between the structure and the cytotoxicity of both steroid and triterpenoid saponins have been described as well as the most common mechanisms of action.
Keywords: Cytotoxic mechanisms; Glycosides; Sar; Steroid; Triterpenoid