An Overview of Genus Aesculus L.: Ethnobotany, Phytochemistry, andPharmacological Activities

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Pharmaceutical Crops, ISSN: 2210-2906, Vol: 1, Issue: 1, Page: 24-51

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Li, Shiyou; Lian, Xiao-Yuan; Zhang, Zhizhen
Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.
Aesculus; horse chestnut; buckeyes; ethnobotany; phytochemistry; triterpenoid saponins; bioactivities; anti-tumor activity; Natural Products Chemistry and Pharmacognosy; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
article description
The genus Aesculus L. (Hippocastanaceae) has 12 species distributed in eastern Asia, eastern and western North America, and Europe. In Europe and the United States, A. hippocastanum has been used for the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency, hemorrhoids, and postoperative edema. In China, A. chinensis var. chinense has been used as a stomachic and analgesic in the treatment of distention and pain in the chest and the abdomen, malaria, dysentery, and heart disease. The objective of this paper is to review the ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and pharmacological properties of the genus Aesculus. To date, more than 210 compounds have been isolated and identified primarily from the fruits or seeds of Aesculus, with polyhydroxylated triterpenoid saponins as the major active principles. Studies have confirmed that Aesculus seed extracts and isolates possess diverse activities, including anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antiviral, antifungal, antiangiogenic (vascular protection), anti-obesity, antioxidative, and antigenotoxic properties. Interestingly, detailed studies of the saponins from more eastern North American species and other uninvestigated Aesculus species are necessary to further confirm the chemotaxonomic value of the novel cytotoxic saponins discovered recently from A. pavia, an eastern North American species, and to fully understand the chemical profile of the genus. Animal investigations of these novel cytotoxic saponins on the potential for the treatment of cancer are also intriguing