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Molecular and Biotechnological Advancements in Hypericum Species

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889451173 Year: Pages: 159 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-117-3 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Botany
Added to DOAB on : 2017-07-06 13:27:36
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Abstract

Hypericum is an important genus of the family Hypericaceae and includes almost 500 species of herbs, shrubs and trees. Being the home for many important bioactive compounds, these species have a long traditional value as medicinal plants. Currently, several species of this genus have been used in ailments as knowledge-based medicine in many countries. In the recent past, several pharmacological studies have been performed using crude extracts to evaluate the traditional knowledge. Results of those studies have revealed that Hypericum extract exert multiple pharmacological properties including antidepressant, antimicrobial, antitumor and wound healing effects. Phytochemical analyses revealed that these species produce a broad spectrum of valuable compounds, mainly naphthodianthrones (hypericin and pseudohypericin), phloroglucinols (hyperforin and adhyperforin), flavonoids (hyperoside, rutin and quercitrin), benzophenones/xanthones (garcinol and gambogic acid), and essential oils. Noticeably, Hypericum perforatum extracts have been used to treat mild to moderate depression from ancient to present times and the antidepressant efficacy of Hypericum extracts has been attributed to its hyperforin content, which is known to inhibit the re-uptake of aminergic transmitters such as serotonin and noradrenaline into synaptic nerve endings. Neurodegenerative diseases and inflammatory responses are also linked with Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) production. A wide range of flavonoids present in Hypericum extracts, namely, rutin, quercetin, and quercitrin exhibit antioxidant/free radical scavenging activity. Hypericin, beside hyperforin, is the active molecule responsible for the antitumor ability of Hypericum extracts and is seen as a potent candidate to treat brain tumor. Recent attempts of using hypericin in patients with recurrent malignant brain tumors showed promising results. Collectively, Hypericum species contain multiple bioactive constituents, suggesting their potential to occupy a huge portion of the phytomedicine market. Today, studies on medicinal plants are rapidly increasing because of the search for new active molecules, and for the improvement in the production of plants and molecules for the herbal pharmaceutical industries. In the post genomic era, application of molecular biology and genomic tools revolutionized our understanding of major biosynthetic pathways, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Hypericum species and individual compounds. This special issue mainly focuses on the recent advancements made in the understanding of biosynthetic pathways, application of biotechnology, molecular biology, genomics, pharmacology and related areas.

Bioactive Compounds from Microbes

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889451852 Year: Pages: 142 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-185-2 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Microbiology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2017-08-28 14:01:09
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Microorganisms have had a long and surprising history. They were “invisible” until invention of microscope in the 17th century. Until that date, although they were extensively (but inconsciously) employed in food preservation, beer and wine fermentation, cheese, vinegar, yogurt and bread making, as well as being the causative agents of infectious diseases, they were considered as “not-existing”. The work of Pasteur in the middle of the 19th century revealed several biological activities performed by microorganisms including fermentations and pathogenicity. Due to the urgent issue to treat infectious diseases (the main cause of death at those times) the “positive potential” of the microbial world has been neglected for about one century. Once the fight against the “evil” strains was fulfilled also thanks to the antibiotics, industry began to appreciate bacteria’s beneficial characteristics and exploit selected strains as starters for both food fermentations and aroma, enzyme and texturing agent production. However, it was only at the end of the 20th century that the probiotic potential of some bacteria such as lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria was fully recognized. Very recently, apart from the probiotic activity of in toto bacteria, attention has begun to be directed to the chemical mediators of the probiotic effect. Thanks also to the improvement of techniques such as transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics, several bioactive compounds are continuously being discovered. Bioactive molecules produced by bacteria, yeasts and virus-infected cells proved to be important for improving or impairing human health. The most important result of last years’ research concerns the discovery that a very complex network of signals allows communication between organisms (from intra-species interactions to inter-kingdom signaling). Based on these findings a completely new approach has arisen: the system biology standpoind. Actually, the different organisms colonizing a certain environmental niche are not merely interacting with each other as individuals but should be considered as a whole complex ecosystem continuously exchanging information at the molecular level. In this context, this topic issue explores both antagonistic compounds (i.e. antibiotics) and “multiple function” cooperative molecules improving the physiological status of both stimulators and targets of this network. From the applicative viewpoint, these molecules could be hopefully exploited to develop new pharmaceuticals and/or nutraceuticals for improving human health.

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