Studies on Bioactive Saponins from Chinese Medicinal Plants

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Saponins are oligoglycosides with spirostane, steroid or triterpenoid aglycones as their genins, which constitute an important kind of natural product. Some of them exhibit prominent bioactivities, such as the saponins from Panax ginseng and Glycyrrhiza uralensis. Because of their high polarity and relatively complicated structures, it was time- and sample-consuming work to purify and identify them before the 1980’s. In the past decade, the continuing development of various advanced chromatographic materials and spectroscopic methods have made it possible to isolate and determine the structures of certain minor saponins ocurring only in small quantities in a short time.