Privileged structures have been widely used as an effective template for the research and discovery of high value chemicals. Coumarin is a simple scaffold widespread in Nature and it can be found in a considerable number of plants as well as in some fungi and bacteria. In the last years, these natural compounds have been gaining an increasing attention from the scientific community for their wide range of biological activities, mainly due to their ability to interact with diverse enzymes and receptors in living organisms. In addition, coumarin nucleus has proved to be easily synthetized and decorated, giving the possibility of designing new coumarin-based compounds and investigating their potential in the treatment of various diseases. The versatility of coumarin scaffold finds applications not only in medicinal chemistry but also in the agrochemical field as well as in the cosmetic and fragrances industry. This review is intended to be a critical overview on coumarins, comprehensive of natural sources, metabolites, biological evaluations and synthetic approaches.
Keywords: biological activity; coumarins; metabolites; natural sources; synthesis.