Bioactive Saponins fromAlliumandAsterPlants

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Plants belonging to the genera Allium and Aster are widely distributed in nature and have been used as food and/or medicine. Their wide use was mainly due to the medicinal properties attributed to these plants since ancient times, recently supported by epidemiological and laboratory studies. Saponin compounds, responsible for many pharmacological activities, are quite abundant in these plants. Thus, a deep knowledge about the saponin composition of these vegetables appears to be essential and could promote the discovery of new potential leads. As part of our continuing research aimed at the identification of bioactive metabolites, we have addressed our attention to several Allium and Aster species. The study resulted in the isolation of over fifty saponins of furostane, spirostane, cholestane, and oleane-type structures. Some of the isolated compounds exhibited promising antiproliferative, antifungal, and antispasmodic activities. Their structure, distribution and bioactivity will be reported here together with a brief overview of the literature on Allium and Aster saponins.

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