Biologically active prenylated flavonoids from the genus Sophora and their structure-activity relationship-A review

Phytother Res. 2019 Mar;33(3):546-560. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6265. Epub 2019 Jan 16.


The genus Sophora (Fabaceae) has been used in traditional medicine for years. Prenylated flavonoids are one of the constituents of Sophora species that play important roles in their biological properties. Different classes of prenylated flavonoids are produced by Sophora spp. including prenylated flavonol (e.g., sophoflavescenol), prenylated flavanone (e.g., sophoraflavanone G), prenylated flavonostilbene (e.g., alopecurones A and B), and prenylated chalcone (kuraridin). Prenylated flavonoids have a more lipophilic structure, which leads to its high affinity to the cell membranes and enhancement of the biological activity, which includes cytotoxicity, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and estrogenic activities. However, it is reported that prenylation decreases the plasma absorption but increases the tissue accumulation. The presence of the prenyl or lavandulyl groups on C8 position of flavonoids plays an important role in the biological activity. It seems that prenylated flavonoids have the potential to be developed as new drugs or supplements for human health.

Keywords: Sophora; anti-inflammatory; antibacterial; cytotoxicity; prenylated flavonoids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Products / chemistry
  • Biological Products / pharmacology
  • Chalcones / chemistry
  • Chalcones / pharmacology
  • Flavanones / chemistry
  • Flavanones / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / chemistry*
  • Flavonoids / isolation & purification
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Monoterpenes / chemistry
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Prenylation
  • Sophora / chemistry*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Biological Products
  • Chalcones
  • Flavanones
  • Flavonoids
  • Monoterpenes
  • Plant Extracts
  • kuraridin
  • sophoflavescenol
  • vexibinol
  • flavanone