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      Effects of Saponins on Lipid Metabolism: A Review of Potential Health Benefits in the Treatment of Obesity

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          Abstract

          Obesity is one of the greatest public health problems. This complex condition has reached epidemic proportions in many parts of the world, and it constitutes a risk factor for several chronic disorders, such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. In the last few decades, several studies dealt with the potential effects of natural products as new safe and effective tools for body weight control. Saponins are naturally-occurring surface-active glycosides, mainly produced by plants, whose structure consists of a sugar moiety linked to a hydrophobic aglycone (a steroid or a triterpene). Many pharmacological properties have been reported for these compounds, such as anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, hypocholesterolemic, hypoglycemic, antifungal and cytotoxic activities. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of recent studies about the anti-obesity therapeutic potential of saponins isolated from medicinal plants. Results on the in vitro and in vivo activity of this class of phytochemicals are here presented and discussed. The most interesting findings about their possible mechanism of action and their potential health benefits in the treatment of obesity are reported, as well.

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          Most cited references 89

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          Drug discovery from medicinal plants.

          Current research in drug discovery from medicinal plants involves a multifaceted approach combining botanical, phytochemical, biological, and molecular techniques. Medicinal plant drug discovery continues to provide new and important leads against various pharmacological targets including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's, malaria, and pain. Several natural product drugs of plant origin have either recently been introduced to the United States market, including arteether, galantamine, nitisinone, and tiotropium, or are currently involved in late-phase clinical trials. As part of our National Cooperative Drug Discovery Group (NCDDG) research project, numerous compounds from tropical rainforest plant species with potential anticancer activity have been identified. Our group has also isolated several compounds, mainly from edible plant species or plants used as dietary supplements, that may act as chemopreventive agents. Although drug discovery from medicinal plants continues to provide an important source of new drug leads, numerous challenges are encountered including the procurement of plant materials, the selection and implementation of appropriate high-throughput screening bioassays, and the scale-up of active compounds.
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            The biological action of saponins in animal systems: a review.

            Saponins are steroid or triterpenoid glycosides, common in a large number of plants and plant products that are important in human and animal nutrition. Several biological effects have been ascribed to saponins. Extensive research has been carried out into the membrane-permeabilising, immunostimulant, hypocholesterolaemic and anticarcinogenic properties of saponins and they have also been found to significantly affect growth, feed intake and reproduction in animals. These structurally diverse compounds have also been observed to kill protozoans and molluscs, to be antioxidants, to impair the digestion of protein and the uptake of vitamins and minerals in the gut, to cause hypoglycaemia, and to act as antifungal and antiviral agents. These compounds can thus affect animals in a host of different ways both positive and negative.
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              Possible anti-obesity therapeutics from nature--a review.

               Jong Won Yun (2010)
              Obesity is associated with many diseases, particularly diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, and heart disease. The obesity incidence has increased at an alarming rate in recent years, becoming a worldwide health problem, with incalculable social costs. Two different obesity-treatment drugs are currently on the market: orlistat, which reduces intestinal fat absorption via inhibiting pancreatic lipase; and sibutramine, an anorectic or appetite suppressant. Both drugs have hazardous side-effects, including increased blood pressure, dry mouth, constipation, headache, and insomnia. For this reason, a wide variety of natural materials have been explored for their obesity treatment potential. These are mainly complex products having several components with different chemical and pharmacological features. This review aimed to survey the literature covering natural products with anti-obesity activity and to review the scientific data, including experimental methodologies, active components, and mechanisms of action against obesity. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Academic Editor
                Role: Academic Editor
                Journal
                Molecules
                Molecules
                molecules
                Molecules
                MDPI
                1420-3049
                20 October 2016
                October 2016
                : 21
                : 10
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Pharmacy, Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Calabria, Rende (CS) I-87036, Italy; filomena.conforti@ 123456unical.it (F.C.); g.statti@ 123456unical.it (G.A.S.)
                [2 ]Department of AGRARIA, University “Mediterranea” of Reggio Calabria, Reggio Calabria (RC) I-89124, Italy; fabrizio.araniti@ 123456unirc.it
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: mariangela.marrelli@ 123456unical.it ; Tel.: +39-0984-493-168; Fax: +39-0984-493-107
                Article
                molecules-21-01404
                10.3390/molecules21101404
                6273086
                27775618
                © 2016 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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