Chemical diversity and biological activities of the saponins isolated from Astragalus genus: focus on Astragaloside IV

  • Vittoria Graziani
  • Monica Scognamiglio
  • Assunta Esposito
  • Antonio Fiorentino
  • Brigida D’AbroscaEmail author


Astragalus is a cosmopolitan genus characterised by a large number of species with an exceptional rate of diversification. Many of these species are used since ancient times in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to cure a condition of general weakness known as “qi”-deficiency. The main phytochemical constituents of these species have been identified as imidazoline alkaloids, nitro toxins, selenium derivatives, polysaccharides, phenols and saponins. Among these, oleanane saponins and cycloartane glycosides are considered as the main responsible for the bioactivity of the plant crude extracts. However, although a plethora of literature data regarding the pharmacological activities of the Astragalus saponins is available, a clear understanding of their mode of action is still missing. In this review, a brief outline of the taxonomy, distribution and morphology of the Astragalus genus is presented along with a comprehensive description of the chemical features and the biological activities of the the saponins from it derived. Moreover, in an attempt to summarise the current mechanistic knowledge on these metabolites, we elaborated a detailed overview of the key signalling pathways that are known to be affected by Astragalus saponins. Finally, we dedicated a section to Astragaloside IV, the best-characterised cycloartane glycoside from Astragalus, to summarise its potentiality as a pharmacological agent. The ultimate goal of this review is to provide the foundations for future investigations, which would eventually enable the introduction of Astragalus saponins in the clinical setting.


Astragalus spp. Oleanane saponin Cycloartane glycosides Astragaloside IV 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Ambientali Biologiche e Farmaceutiche –DiSTABiFUniversità degli Studi della Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”CasertaItaly
  2. 2.Department of BiochemistryMax Planck Institute for Chemical EcologyJenaGermany
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Biotecnologia MarinaStazione Zoologica Anton DohrnNaplesItaly

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