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Boswellic Acids: Biological Actions and Molecular Targets

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Gum resin extracts of Boswellia species have been traditionally applied in folk medicine forcenturies to treat various chronic inflammatory diseases, and experimental data from animal models andstudies with human subjects confirmed the potential of B. spec extracts for the treatment of not onlyinflammation but also of cancer. Analysis of the ingredients of these extracts revealed that the pentacyclictriterpenes boswellic acids (BAs) possess biological activities and appear to be responsible for the respectivepharmacological actions. Approaches in order to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying thebiological effects of BAs identified 5-lipoxygenase, human leukocyte elastase, toposiomerase I and II, as wellas IκB kinases as molecular targets of BAs. Moreover, it was shown that depending on the cell type and thestructure of the BAs, the compounds differentially interfere with signal transduction pathways including Ca2+-and MAPK signaling in various blood cells, related to functional cellular processes important forinflammatory reactions and tumor growth. This review summarizes the biological actions of BAs on thecellular and molecular level and attempts to put the data into perspective of the beneficial effects manifested inanimal studies and trials with human subjects related to inflammation and cancer.
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Keywords: 5-lipoxygenase; Apoptosis; Boswellic acids; Bowel disease; Calcium; Cancer; Inflammation; Mitogen-activated protein kinases

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Pharmaceutical Analytics, Institute of Pharmacy, Eberhard-Karls-University Tuebingen, Auf der Morgenstelle 8, 72076 Tuebingen,Germany.

Publication date: 01 December 2006

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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