Pharmaceutisch Weekblad

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 169–181 | Cite as

Artemisia annua L.: a source of novel antimalarial drugs

  • Herman J. Woerdenbag
  • Charles B. Lugt
  • Niesko Pras


Artemisia annua L. contains artemisinin, an endoperoxide sesquiterpene lactone, mainly in its leaves and inflorescences. This compound and a series of derivatives have attracted attention because of their potential value as antimalarial drugs. In this review a survey of the currently available literature data is given. It includes phytochemical aspects, such as constituents ofA. annua, the artemisinin content during the development of the plant and its biosynthesis, isolation, analysis and stability. Total chemical synthesis of artemisinin is referred to, as well as structure—activity relationships of derivatives and simplified analogues. Pharmacological studies are summarized, including the mechanism of action, interaction of the antimalarial activity with other drugs, possible occurrence of resistance to artemisinin, clinical results, toxicological aspects, metabolism and pharmacokinetics. Finally, plant cell biotechnologyy is mentioned as a possible means to obtain plants and cell cultures with higher artemisinin contents, allowing an industrial production of pharmaceuticals containing this novel drug.


Artemisia annua L. Artemisinin Biosynthesis Chemistry, analytical Clinical trials Pharmacology Sesquiterpene lactones Structure—activity relationship 


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Copyright information

© Royal Dutch Association for Advancement of Pharmacy 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herman J. Woerdenbag
    • 1
  • Charles B. Lugt
    • 2
  • Niesko Pras
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacognosy, University Centre for PharmacyUniversity of GroningenAW Groningenthe Netherlands
  2. 2.ACF Chemie BVAC Maarssenthe Netherlands

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