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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Therapeutic properties of ferns: a 2017 comprehensive scientific review

Abstract (as presented by the authors of the scientific work)

"Ferns are an important phytogenetic bridge between lower and higher plants. Historically they have been used in many ways by humans, including as ornamental plants, domestic utensils, foods, and in handicrafts. In addition, they have found uses as medicinal herbs. Ferns produce a wide array of secondary metabolites endowed with different bioactivities that could potentially be useful in the treatment of many diseases. However, there is currently relatively little information in the literature on the phytochemicals present in ferns and their pharmacological applications, and the most recent review of the literature on the occurrence, chemotaxonomy and physiological activity of fern secondary metabolites was published over 20 years ago, by Soeder (Bot Rev 51:442–536, 1985). Here, we provide an updated review of this field, covering recent findings concerning the bioactive phytochemicals and pharmacology of fern species."

Covered topics (the letter size corresponds to the frequency of mentioning in the text)

Perspectives (as presented by the authors of the scientific work)

"Fern species are essential constituents of ecosystems and produce a wide array of bioactive components with diverse activities. Many of them are used in traditional medicines and could potentially be used to treat various diseases. However, wild fern plants around the world are subject to many severe threats due to environmental change, and significant losses of fern species and habitats have occurred, leading to a profound loss of biodiversity. At present, there is comparatively little data in the literature relating to the phytochemistry of ferns and their bioactivities, despite their potential as sources of novel bioactive compounds. Further analysis and testing of wild ferns to determine their biological properties and identify their active constituents could thus enable important improvements in human healthcare and help to valorize natural biodiversity. To this end, a survey will be performed to identify rare, traditional and wild fern species used in foods and medicines. High value products, pharmaceuticals and bioactive food ingredients from ferns will be harvested sustainably for analysis, and their nutritional and phytochemical profiles will be investigated to determine the bioactivity and toxicity of their extracts and components. In addition, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of selected fractions/purified compounds and ingredients will be examined in selected in vitro and cellular models. The ability of a diet enriched with fern foods and ingredients selected based on in vitro and ex vivo experiments to modulate clinically relevant parameters, oxidative and inflammatory stress, and cardiovascular function in overweight subjects will be assessed."

Full-text access for the referenced scientific work

Phytochemicals from fern species: potential for medicine applications. Cao, H., Chai, TT., Wang, X. et al. Phytochem Rev (2017). doi:10.1007/s11101-016-9488-7


Prof. Atanas G. Atanasov (Dr. habil., PhD)

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