Bioactive properties of the main triterpenes found in olives, virgin olive oil, and leaves of Olea europaea

J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Dec 18;61(50):12173-82. doi: 10.1021/jf403154e. Epub 2013 Nov 22.


Oleanolic acid, maslinic acid, uvaol, and erythrodiol are the main triterpenes present in olives, olive tree leaves, and virgin olive oil. Their concentration in virgin olive oil depends on the quality of the olive oil and the variety of the olive tree. These triterpenes are described to present different properties, such as antitumoral activity, cardioprotective activity, anti-inflammatory activity, and antioxidant protection. Olive oil triterpenes are a natural source of antioxidants that could be useful compounds for the prevention of multiple diseases related to cell oxidative damage. However, special attention has to be paid to the concentrations used, because higher concentration may lead to cytotoxic or biphasic effects. This work explores all of the bioactive properties so far described for the main triterpenes present in virgin olive oil.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Drug Therapy
  • Humans
  • Olea / chemistry*
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / chemistry*
  • Triterpenes / analysis*
  • Triterpenes / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils
  • Triterpenes