Dietary Phytoecdysteroids

Living reference work entry


Phytoecdysteroids are polyhydroxylated steroids which are widely distributed in the plant world and are present in significant amounts in 5–6% of plant species. Their major role in the plant is probably to deter invertebrate predators, but ecdysteroids also have many beneficial effects in mammals and are attracting attention as therapeutic and nutraceutical agents. Four hundred analogues have been identified so far from plant sources, but 20-hydroxyecdysone is the most frequently encountered and is often the major analogue present. Here we consider the occurrence of phytoecdysteroids in food plants and the human diet and how this might change in the future against the backdrop of what we currently know about biosynthesis of these compounds in plants and their bioavailability, metabolism, and biological activities in mammals. Finally, we discuss the medical and pharmaceutical potential of these molecules, particularly in the area of muscle wasting diseases and diabetes, and indicate which areas of fundamental research require focused study.


20-Hydroxyecdysone Anabolic Antidiabetic Bioavailability Biosynthesis Dietary intake Metabolism Quinoa Spinach Steroid Structure-activity relationship 







4E-binding protein 1


adsorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, toxicology


ajugasterone C


central nervous system






Duchenne muscular dystrophy






high-performance liquid chromatography




insulin-like growth factor 1




integristerone A


liquid chromatography


dose bringing about 50% mortality


makisterone A


mass spectrometry


mammalian (or mechanistic) target of rapamycin complex 1


nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy


phosphoinositide kinase-3


ponasterone A


polypodine B








structure-activity relationship


thin-layer chromatography







We are grateful to Biophytis for supporting the preparation of this chapter; we thank Christine Balducci and Louis Guibout for carrying out the HPLC-MS/MS of food plant samples and Stanislas Veillet and Pierre Dilda for their comments on the manuscript.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biophytis, Campus Pierre & Marie CurieSorbonne UniversitéParisFrance
  2. 2.Academy of Sciences of the Republic of UzbekistanS. Yu. Yusonov Institute for the Chemistry of Plant SubstancesTashkentUzbekistan
  3. 3.IBPS-BIOSIPE, Campus Pierre & Marie CurieSorbonne UniversitéParisFrance

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