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J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Sep 10;51(19):5579-97.

Potential therapeutic applications of some antinutritional plant secondary metabolites.

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Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Regional Station, Palampur 176 061, H. P., India.


Plant-based formulations have been used since ancient times as remedial measures against various human and animal ailments. Over the past 20 years interest in traditional medicines has increased considerably in many parts of the world. Whereas modifications in lifestyles, including diet, have had a profound effect on the increased risks of various diseases, there is considerable scientific evidence, both epidemiological and experimental, regarding vegetables and fruits as key features of diets associated with reduced risks of diseases such as cancers and infections. This has led to the use of a number of phytometabolites as anticarcinogenic and cardioprotective agents, promoting a dramatic increase in their consumption as dietary supplements. There are changing perceptions regarding the therapeutic potential of various plant secondary metabolites (PSMs), some of which have also been known to possess certain antinutritional qualities. The knowledge gained at the cellular and molecular levels, and biological activities of PSMs including tannin-polyphenols, saponins, mimosine, flavonoids, terpenoids, and phytates, would be useful in planning for future epidemiological studies and human cancer prevention trials, especially when a large pure dosage is not the option to deliver the active compounds to many tissues. It is well observed that alteration of cell cycle regulatory gene expression is frequently found in tumor tissues or cancer cell lines, and studies have suggested that the herbal-based or plant-originated cell cycle regulators might represent a new set of potential targets for anticancer drugs. The recent upsurge of interest in this area of research and advances made therein indicate that the impact of a number of diseases affecting humans and animals may be lessened, if not prevented, by simple dietary intake of PSMs with putative therapeutic properties.

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