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      Ursolic Acid—A Pentacyclic Triterpenoid with a Wide Spectrum of Pharmacological Activities

      * , ,
      ursolic acid, anticancer, triterpene, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial

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          Ursolic acid (UA) is a natural terpene compound exhibiting many pharmaceutical properties. In this review the current state of knowledge about the health-promoting properties of this widespread, biologically active compound, as well as information about its occurrence and biosynthesis are presented. Particular attention has been paid to the application of ursolic acid as an anti-cancer agent; it is worth noticing that clinical tests suggesting the possibility of practical use of UA have already been conducted. Amongst other pharmacological properties of UA one can mention protective effect on lungs, kidneys, liver and brain, anti-inflammatory properties, anabolic effects on skeletal muscles and the ability to suppress bone density loss leading to osteoporosis. Ursolic acid also exhibits anti-microbial features against numerous strains of bacteria, HIV and HCV viruses and Plasmodium protozoa causing malaria.

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          Most cited references194

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          Cyclooxygenases 1 and 2.

          Cyclooxygenase (COX), first purified in 1976 and cloned in 1988, is the key enzyme in the synthesis of prostaglandins (PGs) from arachidonic acid. In 1991, several laboratories identified a product from a second gene with COX activity and called it COX-2. However, COX-2 was inducible, and the inducing stimuli included pro-inflammatory cytokines and growth factors, implying a role for COX-2 in both inflammation and control of cell growth. The two isoforms of COX are almost identical in structure but have important differences in substrate and inhibitor selectivity and in their intracellular locations. Protective PGs, which preserve the integrity of the stomach lining and maintain normal renal function in a compromised kidney, are synthesized by COX-1. In addition to the induction of COX-2 in inflammatory lesions, it is present constitutively in the brain and spinal cord, where it may be involved in nerve transmission, particularly that for pain and fever. PGs made by COX-2 are also important in ovulation and in the birth process. The discovery of COX-2 has made possible the design of drugs that reduce inflammation without removing the protective PGs in the stomach and kidney made by COX-1. These highly selective COX-2 inhibitors may not only be anti-inflammatory but may also be active in colon cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
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            Pharmacology of oleanolic acid and ursolic acid.

            Jie Liu (1995)
            Oleanolic acid and ursolic acid are triterpenoid compounds that exist widely in food, medicinal herbs and other plants. This review summarizes the pharmacological studies on these two triterpenoids. Both oleanolic acid and ursolic acid are effective in protecting against chemically induced liver injury in laboratory animals. Oleanolic acid has been marketed in China as an oral drug for human liver disorders. The mechanism of hepatoprotection by these two compounds may involve the inhibition of toxicant activation and the enhancement of the body defense systems. Oleanolic acid and ursolic acid have also been long-recognized to have antiinflammatory and antihyperlipidemic properties in laboratory animals, and more research is warranted to develop a therapy for patients. Recently, both compounds have been noted for their antitumor-promotion effects, which are stimulating additional research in this field. Oleanolic acid and ursolic acid are relatively non-toxic, and have been used in cosmetics and health products. The possible mechanisms for the pharmacological effects and the prospects for these two compounds are discussed.
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              Triterpene biosynthesis in plants.

              The triterpenes are one of the most numerous and diverse groups of plant natural products. They are complex molecules that are, for the most part, beyond the reach of chemical synthesis. Simple triterpenes are components of surface waxes and specialized membranes and may potentially act as signaling molecules, whereas complex glycosylated triterpenes (saponins) provide protection against pathogens and pests. Simple and conjugated triterpenes have a wide range of applications in the food, health, and industrial biotechnology sectors. Here, we review recent developments in the field of triterpene biosynthesis, give an overview of the genes and enzymes that have been identified to date, and discuss strategies for discovering new triterpene biosynthetic pathways.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                19 November 2015
                November 2015
                : 20
                : 11
                : 20614-20641
                Department of Fruit and Vegetable Product Technology, Institute of Agricultural and Food Biotechnology, 36 Rakowiecka Street, 02-532 Warsaw, Poland; skapska@ 123456ibprs.pl (S.S.); marszalek@ 123456ibprs.pl (K.M.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: lukasz.wozniak@ 123456ibprs.pl ; Tel.: +48-226-063-604; Fax: +48-228-490-426
                © 2015 by the authors.

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

                : 03 July 2015
                : 23 September 2015

                ursolic acid,anticancer,triterpene,anti-inflammatory,antibacterial


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