The Biological Activity of Natural Alkaloids against Herbivores, Cancerous Cells and Pathogens
Bufo, Sabino A.
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The growing incidence of microorganisms that resist antimicrobials is a constant concern for the scientific community, while the development of new antimicrobials from new chemical entities has become more and more expensive, time-consuming, and exacerbated by emerging drug-resistant strains. In this regard, many scientists are conducting research on plants aiming to discover possible antimicrobial compounds. The secondary metabolites contained in plants are a source of chemical entities having pharmacological activities and intended to be used for the treatment of di erent diseases. These chemical entities have the potential to be used as an e ective antioxidant, antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic and antimicrobial agents. Among these pharmacologically active entities are the alkaloids which are classified into a number of classes, including pyrrolizidines, pyrrolidines, quinolizidines, indoles, tropanes, piperidines, purines, imidazoles, and isoquinolines. Alkaloids that have antioxidant properties are capable of preventing a variety of degenerative diseases through capturing free radicals, or through binding to catalysts involved indi erent oxidation processes occurring within the human body. Furthermore, these entities are capable of inhibiting the activity of bacteria, fungi, protozoan and etc. The unique properties of these secondary metabolites are the main reason for their utilization by the pharmaceutical companies for the treatment of di erent diseases. Generally, these alkaloids are extracted from plants, animals and fungi. Penicillin is the most famous natural drug discovery deriving from fungus. Similarly, marines have been used as a source for thousands of bioactive marine natural products. In this review, we cover the medical use of natural alkaloids isolated from a variety of plants and utilized by humans as antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anticancer agents. An example for such alkaloids is berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid, found in roots and stem-bark of Berberis asculin P. Renault plant and used to kill a variety of microorganisms.