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Keywords:

  • Gesneriaceae species;
  • Flavonoids;
  • Terpenes;
  • Glycosides;
  • Phenolic glucosides;
  • Quinones;
  • Biological activity

Abstract

The family Gesneriaceae comprises ca. 150 genera and 3000 species, distributed in the tropics around the world. It is constituted of herbs, lianas, or shrubs, frequently with ornamental potential, due to the beauty of their flowers. Some species have been used in traditional medicine, mainly against fever, cough, colds, snakebite, pains, and infectious and inflammatory diseases. Although Gesneriaceae are a large family, only few species were chemically investigated, and this took place mainly in the last decade. In the present work, chemical and pharmacological studies on Gesneriaceae are reviewed based on original articles published. Altogether 300 compounds have been reported in Gesneriaceae species, including flavonoids, terpenes and steroids, phenolic glucosides, simple phenolics, quinones, lignans, xanthones, and compounds with unusual skeletons. Several species had been used in folk medicine, and some constituents have shown biological activities, such as antimicrobial, anti-inflamatory, antioxidant, and antitumor properties.