Triterpenes with healing activity: A systematic review

J Dermatolog Treat. 2015 Oct;26(5):465-70. doi: 10.3109/09546634.2015.1021663. Epub 2015 Apr 20.


The purpose of this review was to systematically evaluate the literature on the efficacy of triterpenes for wound healing. We searched for original studies in the Medline, SCIDIRECT and LILACS databases published from 1910 to 2013. For each study, the title, abstract and full article were evaluated by two reviewers. We identified 2181 studies; however, after application of the inclusion and exclusion criteria, only 12 studies were subjected to further review. In surgical wounds, the triterpenes induced a reduction in time to closure, and this effect was reported in virtually all wound types. Triterpenes also modulate the production of ROS in the wound microenvironment, accelerating the process of tissue repair. Triterpenes may also induce cell migration, cell proliferation and collagen deposition. Although the pharmacological effects of triterpenes are well characterized, little is known about their effects in cells involved in healing, such as keratinocytes and fibroblasts. In addition, the lack of studies on the risks associated with the therapeutic use of triterpenes is worrisome. Our study reveals that triterpenes seem to favor wound healing; however, toxicological studies with these compounds are required. Taken together, these findings show that the triterpenes are a class of molecules with significant promise that leads for the development of new drugs to treat skin injury.

Keywords: Skin; systematic review; triterpenes; wound healing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Collagen / chemistry
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Ginsenosides / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes / therapeutic use
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Sapogenins / therapeutic use
  • Saponins / therapeutic use
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Skin Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Triterpenes / therapeutic use*
  • Ursolic Acid
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Ginsenosides
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Sapogenins
  • Saponins
  • Triterpenes
  • bacoside A
  • astragaloside A
  • Collagen
  • lupeol
  • asiaticoside
  • ginsenoside Rd
  • cycloastragenol