Limonoids: Structure–Activity Relationship Studies and Anticancer Properties

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Studies in Natural Products Chemistry


Plants have evolved through time and developed numerous defense mechanisms to thwart pests and pathogens for their survival. In order to overcome this innate pressure, plants synthesize unique and diverse molecules. The biochemical synthesis of a vast array of phytochemicals is one such employed mechanisms. There are many classes of compounds with insecticidal and antifeedant activities; limonoids are prime examples of this group. Limonoids are one of the major classes of phytochemicals along with flavonoids, coumarins, and carotenoids in Meliaceae and Rutaceae families. Limonoids are oxygenated triterpenoids derived from a precursor with a furanylsteroid skeleton, which is prone to oxygenation and rearrangement reactions. It has been demonstrated in a number of secondary metabolites, including limonoids, that small changes in basic structure due to chemical transformations would result in significant alterations in their biological activities. A number of biological studies have advanced our understanding of disease prevention properties of limonoids. Due to their ability to suppress cell proliferation and induce apoptosis, limonoids have been investigated for their anticancer properties. The aim of this chapter is to analyze the chemistry, structure–activity relationships, and rational design efforts toward the development of limonoid analogs as potential anticancer molecules.

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