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Antileishmanial Activity of Lignans, Neolignans, and Other Plant Phenols

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Progress in the Chemistry of Organic Natural Products 115

Abstract

Secondary metabolites (SM) from organisms have served medicinal chemists over the past two centuries as an almost inexhaustible pool of new drugs, drug-like skeletons, and chemical probes that have been used in the “hunt” for new biologically active molecules with a “beneficial effect on human mind and body.” Several secondary metabolites, or their derivatives, have been found to be the answer in the quest to search for new approaches to treat or even eradicate many types of diseases that oppress humanity. A special place among SM is occupied by lignans and neolignans. These phenolic compounds are generated biosynthetically via radical coupling of two phenylpropanoid monomers, and are known for their multitarget activity and low toxicity. The disadvantage of the relatively low specificity of phenylpropanoid-based SM turns into an advantage when structural modifications of these skeletons are made. Indeed, phenylpropanoid-based SM previously have proven to offer great potential as a starting point in drug development. Compounds such as Warfarin® (a coumarin-based anticoagulant) as well as etoposide and teniposide (podophyllotoxin-based anticancer drugs) are just a few examples. At the beginning of the third decade of the twenty-first century, the call for the treatment of more than a dozen rare or previously “neglected” diseases remains for various reasons unanswered. Leishmaniasis, a neglected disease that desperately needs new ways of treatment, is just one of these. This disease is caused by more than 20 leishmanial parasites that are pathogenic to humans and are spread by as many as 800 sandfly species across subtropical areas of the world. With continuing climate changes, the presence of Leishmania parasites and therefore leishmaniasis, the disease caused by these parasites, is spreading from previous locations to new areas. Thus, leishmaniasis is affecting each year a larger proportion of the world’s population. The choice of appropriate leishmaniasis treatment depends on the severity of the disease and its form of manifestation. The success of current drug therapy is often limited, due in most cases to requiring long hospitalization periods (weeks to months) and the toxicity (side effects) of administered drugs, in addition to the increasing resistance of the parasites to treatment. It is thus important to develop new drugs and treatments that are less toxic, can overcome drug resistance, and require shorter periods of treatment. These aspects are especially important for the populations of developing countries. It was reported that several phenylpropanoid-based secondary metabolites manifest interesting antileishmanial activities and are used by various indigenous people to treat leishmaniasis. In this chapter, the authors shed some light on the various biological activities of phenylpropanoid natural products, with the main focus being on their possible applications in the context of antileishmanial treatment.

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Change history

  • 18 May 2021

    The original version of the book was inadvertently published with incorrect figures (Fig. 3 and Fig. 14) in Chapter 3. The erratum chapter has been updated with the changes and the correct presentation is given here:

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Acknowledgments

This work was financed by the European Regional Development Fund-Project “Centre for Experimental Plant Biology” (grant number CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000738). For their continual support, J.P. is grateful to Prof. M. Strnad, Dr K. Doležal, and Prof. J. Hlaváč (Palacky University).

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Pospíšil, J., Konrádová, D., Strnad, M. (2021). Antileishmanial Activity of Lignans, Neolignans, and Other Plant Phenols. In: Kinghorn, A.D., Falk, H., Gibbons, S., Asakawa, Y., Liu, JK., Dirsch, V.M. (eds) Progress in the Chemistry of Organic Natural Products 115. Progress in the Chemistry of Organic Natural Products, vol 115. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-64853-4_3

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