The medicinal uses, toxicities and anti-inflammatory activity of Polyalthia species (Annonaceae)

J Ethnopharmacol. 2019 Jan 30:229:303-325. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2018.10.001. Epub 2018 Oct 11.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Polyalthia is one of the largest and notable genera in Annonaceae family. Polyalthia species have been widely used in folklore medicine for the treatment of rheumatic fever, gastrointestinal ulcer and generalized body pain. Numerous in vitro and in vivo studies on Polyalthia Species have also corroborated the significant anti-inflammatory potential of its extracts and secondary metabolites.

Aim of the study: This review is an attempt to assess the anti-inflammatory activity of Polyalthia species by giving critical appraisal and establishing evidences of their traditional uses. Moreover this review will highlight the lead compounds for future drug development that can serve as a potential anti-inflammatory drug with comparative efficacy and minimum side effects.

Materials and methods: An extensive literature review, focusing the anti-inflammatory potential of Polyalthia species was conducted using the following databases:PubMed, ScienceDirect, SpringerLink, Ovid, Scopus and ProQuest, as well as the locally available books, journals and relevant documents. The reference lists of retrieved papers were also searched for additional studies.

Results: The Polyalthia species have shown significant anti-inflammatory activity through various mechanism of action. The most significant anti-inflammatory mechanism includes the inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), prostaglandins (PGs), pro-inflammatory cytokines, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and reactive oxygen species (ROS). The data suggests that hydroxycleroda-3,13-dien-15,16-olide and 16-oxocleroda-3,13-dien-15-oic acid, quercetin, rutin, spinasterol, α-spinasterol, goniothalamin and (-)-5-hydroxygoniothalamin are the most potent anti-inflammatory compounds from Polyalthia species with comparable IC50 with positive controls.

Conclusions: Numerous pharmacological studies have supported the use of Polyalthia species against pain, rheumatic fever, haemorrhages and inflammation in traditional medicine. Flavonoids, diterpenoids, sterols and styrylpyrones from genus Polyalthia are the most significant class of compounds with potent anti-inflammatory activity. Secondary metabolites from these classes should be brought into further research to fill the gaps of knowledge in pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, bioavailability, and toxicity in order to convert the pre-clinical results into clinical data for further investigation.

Keywords: (−)−5-Hydroxygoniothalamin (PubChem CID:11390293); 13(14)-Z-dien-15; 13(14)E-dien-15-oic acid (PubChem CID: not found); 13-dien-15; 13-dien-15-oic acid (PubChem CID:not found); 16-Hydroxycleroda-3; 16-Oxocleroda-3; 16-olide (PubChem CID:not found); 16α-Hydroxycleroda-3; 3-O-Methyl ellagic acid 4′-rhamnoside (PubChem CID:not found); Annonaceae; Cyclooxygenase; Dehydrogoniothalamin (PubChem CID:not found); Diayangambin (PubChem CID:167452); Goniothalamin (PubChem CID:6440856); Inflammation; N-trans-Feruloyltyramine (PubChem CID:5280537); Nuclear factor-kappaB; Polyalthia; Procyanidin (PubChem CID:not found); Quercetin (PubChem CID:5280343); Quercetin-3-O-β-glucopyranoside (PubChem CID:13258914); Reactive oxygen species; Rutin (PubChem CID:5280805); Spinasterol (PubChem CID:not found); Stigmasterol (PubChem CID:5280794); Zincpolyanemine (PubChem CID:3005837); bis(2-Ethylheptyl) phthalate (PubChem CID:3020641); α-Spinasterol (PubChem CID:not found); β-Sitosterol (PubChem CID:222284).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asia
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Phytotherapy
  • Polyalthia*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents