Monoterpenes and RelatedCompounds from the MedicinalPlants of Africa
Michel Kenne Tchimene
, Christopher O. Okunji
,Maurice Mmaduakolam Iwu
and Victor Kuete
International Centre for Ethnomedicine and Drug Development, Nsukka,Nigeria,
Department of Biochemistry, University of Dschang, Dschang,Cameroon,
USP Headquarter, Rockville, MD
Monoterpenes are a class of terpenes that consist of two isoprene units and havethe molecular formula C
. They are predominantly products of the secondarymetabolism of plants, although specialized classes occur in some animals andmicroorganisms, and are usually isolated from the oils obtained by steam distilla-tion or solvent extraction of leaves, fruits, some heartwoods, and, rarely, roots, andbark . In favorable cases they occur to the extent of several percent of the wetweight of the tissue. Conjugated nondistillable forms, e.g., terpene-
-glucoside,are also frequently found, especially in the floral organs. They are the most repre-sentative molecules, constituting 90% of the essential oils, and have a great varietyof structures. Monoterpenes may be linear (acyclic) or they may contain rings.Biochemical modifications such as oxidation or rearrangement produce the relatedmonoterpenoids. They are known for their many biological activities such as anti-microbial, hypotensive, antiinflammatory, antipruritic, antigerminative, antiplasmo-dial, antiesophageal cancer, and anticandidal. The compounds are inexpensive andhave been widely used in flavoring and fragrances since the beginning of the nine-teenth century. More recently, they have played a great role in the pharmaceuticalindustry because of their potential. Monoterpenes are also included in the categoryof nutraceuticals, which represent an industry in excess of US$75.5 billion withprospects of growing to US$167 billion by 2010 .
1.2 Biosynthesis and Structural Diversity
Modern methods of separation and structure determination, as well as the advent of radioisotope techniques, have led to a very rapid advance in knowledge of the routeof biosynthesis of this class and the other types of terpenoids over the last 30 years.
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