Journal of Natural Medicines

, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 1-13

First online:

Physiological functions of solanaceous and tomato steroidal glycosides

  • Toshihiro NoharaAffiliated withFaculty of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kumamoto University Email author 
  • , Tsuyoshi IkedaAffiliated withFaculty of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kumamoto University
  • , Yukio FujiwaraAffiliated withFaculty of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kumamoto University
  • , Sayaka MatsushitaAffiliated withFaculty of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kumamoto University
  • , Eishin NoguchiAffiliated withFaculty of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kumamoto University
  • , Hitoshi YoshimitsuAffiliated withFaculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Sojo University
  • , Masateru OnoAffiliated withSchool of Agriculture, Kyushu Tokai University

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Solanaceous plants are widely distributed. They are used as food and in folk medicine. Our studies focused on these plants, starting with Solanum lyratum and S. nigrum, which are used as anti-cancer and anti-herpes agents. Extensive investigations in 45 Solanum plant species revealed that a considerable amount of glycosides such as spirosolane, solanidane, spirostane and furostane is in these plants, and some of the isolated glycosides showed strong anti-proliferative activity against various cancer cell lines and anti-herpes activity. Furthermore, we have discovered a few new hypothetical biosynthetic routes in which the pathways for the biosynthesis of 16-acyl-pregnane and pregnane glycosides were the most interesting. The occurrence of these pregnane compounds indicates that they might be internally biosynthesized in the plant from furostanol glycosides by a reaction that is similar to Marker degradation. Furthermore, this may imply that the administration of steroidal glycosides may result in their metabolization into pregnane derivatives possessing various activities. In order to perform metabolic experiments using the steroidal glycosides, we recently isolated tomato glycosides from ripe tomato fruits for the first time. For this experiment, we examined the metabolites in urine obtained from persons that consumed tomatoes. We obtained androstane derivatives that were probably metabolized via pregnane derivatives from tomato glycoside. Hence, when a steroidal glycoside is administered, it may be metabolized into a type of steroidal hormone with various physiological activities.


Steroidal glycoside Pregnane glycoside Tomato glycoside Lycopersicon esculentum Spirosolane-type Solanocapsine-type Saponin metabolism Seasonal variation Cytotoxicity Anti-herpes activity Anti-arteriosclerosis