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J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jul 18;60(28):6977-83. doi: 10.1021/jf3006728. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Exploration of the antiplatelet activity profile of betulinic acid on human platelets.

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Section of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece.


Betulinic acid, a natural pentacyclic triterpene acid, presents a diverse mode of biological actions including antiretroviral, antibacterial, antimalarial, and anti-inflammatory activities. The potency of betulinic acid as an inhibitor of human platelet activation was evaluated, and its antiplatelet profile against in vitro platelet aggregation, induced by several platelet agonists (adenosine diphosphate, thrombin receptor activator peptide-14, and arachidonic acid), was explored. Flow cytometric analysis was performed to examine the effect of betulinic acid on P-selectin membrane expression and PAC-1 binding to activated platelets. Betulinic acid potently inhibits platelet aggregation and also reduced PAC-1 binding and the membrane expression of P-selectin. Principal component analysis was used to screen, on the chemical property space, for potential common pharmacophores of betulinic acid with approved antithrombotic drugs. A common pharmacophore was defined between the NMR-derived structure of betulinic acid and prostacyclin agonists (PGI2), and the importance of its carboxylate group in its antiplatelet activity was determined. The present results indicate that betulinic acid has potential use as an antithrombotic compound and suggest that the mechanism underlying the antiplatelet effects of betulinic acid is similar to that of the PGI2 receptor agonists, a hypothesis that deserves further investigation.

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