Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 751–783 | Cite as

Cedrela and Toona genera: a rich source of bioactive limonoids and triterpenoids

  • Marinella De Leo
  • Luigi Milella
  • Alessandra Braca
  • Nunziatina De Tommasi


Cedrela P. Browne is a genus of trees, strictly related to Toona, in the Meliaceae, a family of flowering plants in the order Sapindales, which is among the most diverse sources of secondary metabolites in the Angiospermae. The most abundant metabolites in these genera are limonoids, tetranortriterpenes possessing diverse structural features, apotirucallanes, tirucallanes, and other triterpenes. The chemical constituents isolated from the genera Cedrela and Toona over the past decades, together with their biological activities, have been compiled in this article. The allelochemical and the phytotoxic activity of limonoids and triterpenoids seem to play a crucial role in the ecological function of these metabolites. While, the most promising use in human field seems related to their antimalarial and anti-inflammatory effects, even that further investigation are still needed.


Cedrela Toona Meliaceae Limonoids Triterpenoids Biological activity 



2,2′-Azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid)




Electronic circular dichroism




Hexokinase II


Half maximal inhibitory concentration


Inducible nitric oxide synthase




Half maximal lethal concentration




Minimal Inhibitory Concentration


Nuclear Factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells


Nitric oxide


Protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B


Standard target species


Tumor Necrosis Factor


Human leukemia monocytic cell line


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di FarmaciaUniversità di PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di ScienzeUniversità degli Studi della BasilicataPotenzaItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di FarmaciaUniversità di SalernoFiscianoItaly

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