, Volume 244, Issue 3, pp 545–555 | Cite as

Plant ecdysteroids: plant sterols with intriguing distributions, biological effects and relations to plant hormones

  • Danuše TarkowskáEmail author
  • Miroslav Strnad


Main conclusion

The present review summarises current knowledge of phytoecdysteroids’ biosynthesis, distribution within plants, biological importance and relations to plant hormones.

Plant ecdysteroids (phytoecdysteroids) are natural polyhydroxylated compounds that have a four-ringed skeleton, usually composed of either 27 carbon atoms or 28–29 carbon atoms (biosynthetically derived from cholesterol or other plant sterols, respectively). Their physiological roles in plants have not yet been confirmed and their occurrence is not universal. Nevertheless, they are present at high concentrations in various plant species, including commonly consumed vegetables, and have a broad spectrum of pharmacological and medicinal properties in mammals, including hepatoprotective and hypoglycaemic effects, and anabolic effects on skeletal muscle, without androgenic side-effects. Furthermore, phytoecdysteroids can enhance stress resistance by promoting vitality and enhancing physical performance; thus, they are considered adaptogens. This review summarises current knowledge of phytoecdysteroids’ biosynthesis, distribution within plants, biological importance and relations to plant hormones.


Phytoecdysteroids Ecdysteroids 20-Hydroxyecdysone Plant hormones Signalling molecules 



2,4-Dichlorophenoxy acetic acid




Abscisic acid










Indole-3-acetic acid


Jasmonic acid




Methyl jasmonate







Financial support from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport of the Czech Republic through the National Program of Sustainability (Grant No. LO 1204) is gratefully acknowledged. The authors would like to also express thanks to Sees-editing Ltd., Prof. Claus Wasternack and Dr. Juraj Harmatha for their critical reading and editing of the manuscript.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Growth Regulators, Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research, Institute of Experimental Botany AS CR, Faculty of SciencePalacký UniversityOlomoucCzech Republic

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