Saponins and Phenolics ofYucca schidigeraRoezl: Chemistry and Bioactivity


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Abstract

Yucca schidigera (Agavaceae) is one of the major commercial source of steroidal saponins. Two products of yucca are available on the market. These include dried and finely powdered logs (yucca powder) or mechanically pressed and thermally condensed juice (yucca extract). These products possess the GRAS label which allows their use as foaming agent in soft drink (root beer), pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food, and feeding-stuffs industries. The main application of yucca products is in animal nutrition, in particular as a feed additive to reduce ammonia and fecal odors in animal excreta. The positive effects of dietary supplementation with yucca products on the growth rates, feed efficiency, and health of livestock seem to be due not only to the saponin constituents but also to other constituents. These observations prompted us to investigate the phenolic constituents of Y. schidigera. This study led to the isolation of resveratrol, trans-3,3′,5,5′-tetrahydroxy-4′-methoxystilbene, the sprirobiflavonoid larixinol along with novel phenolic derivatives with very unusual spirostructures, named yuccaols A-E and yuccaone A. Taking into account the multifunctional activities of resveratrol and the novelty of yuccaols A-E, structurally related to resveratrol, a program aimed to evaluate for yucca phenolics some of the activities exerted by resveratrol has been carried out. This review describes the chemistry of yucca saponins and phenolics, summarizes the biological activities of yucca products and constituents and gives an account on the actual and potential applications of yucca products.

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