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Biochem Pharmacol. 2002 Sep;64(5-6):913-7.

Genomic responses to herbal extracts: lessons from in vitro and in vivo studies with an extract of Ginkgo biloba.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Do herbal extracts offer effective dietary supplements to prevent deregulation of the transcriptome? Can they normalize deregulated transcriptomes of chronic human diseases? Are the effects of herbal extracts targeted to specific molecular pathways in tissue-specific manner? Are the effects of herbal supplements reversible? These questions pose important challenges to the fields of molecular nutrition and medicine, which are committed to understanding the molecular basis of physiology during health and disease. Transcription of the molecular information encoded in the deoxynucleotide sequences of DNA to the nucleotide sequences of RNA play a vital, causative, role in the coordinated adaptation of the organism to its changing environment and its nutritional needs. Pathogenesis is a manifestation of defects in transcription of the genome. Herbal extracts may target these obligatory processes. Increased availability of tools for quantitative and comprehensive analysis of messenger RNAs offer powerful means to understand and identify changes in these fundamental processes. Studies with the extract of Ginkgo biloba leaves show that the extract affects transcription of functionally diverse groups of genes in vitro and in vivo. The observations offer molecular evidence for bioactivity of the extract and offer an analytical strategy to define and predict physiological effects of complex mixtures of phytochemicals.

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