Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 275–285 | Cite as

Twenty years of research into medicinal plants: Results and perspectives

  • Kurt Hostettmann
  • Andrew Marston


Over the years 1981 to 2001 there has been a rapid evolution of research into medicinal plants. The major improvement has been the introduction of simple and predictive bioassays for bioactivity-guided isolation. Radical developments in separation methods have also taken place. Another important addition has been the development of hyphenated techniques involving HPLC: LC/UV, LC/MS, LC/MSn and LC/NMR. These are indispensable nowadays for the early detection and identification of new compounds in crude plant extracts. Hyphenated techniques allow an efficient targeted isolation approach for the discovery of new lead compounds. Other areas of increasing importance include the investigation of toxic constituents of plants and phytomedicines, and the effects of genetic modifications on plant secondary metabolites.

bioassays hyphenated techniques isolation techniques lead compounds 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Cavin A, Potterat O, Wolfender J-L & Hostettmann K (1998) LC/UV/MS and LC/NMR of an antioxidant fraction from Orophea enneandra and isolation of a polyacetylene, lignans and a tocopherol derivative. J. Nat. Prod. 61: 1497–1501.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cortez DAG, Marston A & Hostettmann K (1999) Separation of xanthones and a biphenyl from Kielmeyera coriacea by centrifugal partition chromatography. Chromatographia 50: 7–10.Google Scholar
  3. Cuendet M, Hostettmann K, Potterat O & Dyatmiko W (1997) Iridoid glucosides with free radical scavenging properties from Fagraea blumei. Helv. Chim. Acta 80: 1144–1152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dapkevicius A, van Beek TA & Niederländer HAG (2001) Evaluation and comparison of two improved techniques for the on-line detection of antioxidants in liquid chromatography eluates. J. Chromatogr. A 912: 73–82.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gebhardt R (2000) In vitro screening of plant extracts and phytopharmaceuticals: novel approaches for the elucidation of active compounds and their mechanism. Planta Med. 66: 99–105.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hostettmann K (1980) Droplet counter-current chromatography and its application to the preparative scale separation of natural products. Planta Med. 39: 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hostettmann K (Ed.) (1991) Methods in Plant Biochemistry, Vol. 6, Assays for Bioactivity. Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
  8. Hostettmann K, Appolonia C, Domon B & Hostettmann M (1984) Droplet countercurrent chromatography-new applications in natural products chemistry. J. Liq. Chromatogr. 7: 231–242.Google Scholar
  9. Hostettmann K, Marston A & Hostettmann M (1998) Preparative Chromatography Techniques: Application in Natural Product Isolation. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  10. Houghton PJ (2000) Use of small scale bioassays in the discovery of novel drugs from natural sources. Phytother. Res. 14: 419–423.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ioset JR, Raoelison GE & Hostettmann K (2002) An LC/DADUV/MS method for the rapid detection of aristolochic acid in plant preparations. Planta Med. 68: 856–858.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kaufman PB, Cseke LJ & Okubo A (1999) Bioseparation of compounds. In: Kaufman PB, Cseke LJ, Warber S, Duke JA & Brielmann HL (eds) Natural Products from Plants (pp. 207–240). CRC Press, Boca Raton.Google Scholar
  13. Marston A & Hostettmann, K (1994) Counter-current chromatography as a preparative tool-applications and perspectives. J. Chromatogr. A 658: 315–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Marston A, Kissling J & Hostettmann K (2002) A rapid TLC bioautographic method for the detection of acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase inhibitors in plants. Phytochem. Anal. 13: 51–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Newman DJ, Cragg GM & Snader KM (2000). The influence of natural products upon drug discovery. Nat. Prod. Rep. 17: 215–234.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pratt DE & Miller EE (1984) A flavonoid antioxidant in Spanish peanuts (Arachia hypogoea). JAOCS 61: 1064–1067.Google Scholar
  17. Schaller F, Rahalison L, Islam N, Potterat O, Hostettmann K, Stoeckli-Evans H & Mavi S (2000) A new potent antifungal ‘quinone methide’ diterpene with a cassane skeleton from Bobgunnia madagascariensis. Helv. Chim. Acta 83: 407–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Suter R, Tanner M, Borel C, Hostettmann K & Freyvogel TA (1986) Laboratory and field trials at Ifakara (Kilombero District, Tanzania) on the plant molluscicide Swartzia madagascariensis. Acta Trop. 43: 69–83.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Tanimura T, Pisano JJ, Ito Y & Bowman RL (1970) Droplet countercurrent chromatography. Science 169: 54–56.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Wang Y, Hamburger m, Cheng CHK, Costall B, Naylor RJ, Jenner P & Hostettmann K (1991) Neurotoxic sesquiterpenoids from the yellow star thistle Centaurea solstitialis L. (Asteraceae). Helv. Chim. Acta 74: 117–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wolfender J-L, Ndjoko K & Hostettmann K (2001) The potential of LC-NMR in phytochemical analysis. Phytochem. Anal. 11: 1–22.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kurt Hostettmann
    • 1
  • Andrew Marston
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut de Pharmacognosie et PhytochimieUniversité de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations