Mechanism of action of glycyrrhizin against Plasmodium falciparum

Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2021 Aug 20;116:e210084. doi: 10.1590/0074-02760210084. eCollection 2021.


Extracts of the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) are used in traditional medicine to treat malaria. The main active components are the saponin glycyrrhizin (GLR) and its active metabolite glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) which both display activities against Plasmodium falciparum. We have identified three main mechanisms at the origin of their anti-plasmodial activity: (i) drug-induced disorganisation of membrane lipid rafts, (ii) blockade of the alarmin protein HMGB1 and (iii) potential inhibition of the detoxifying enzyme glyoxalase 1 (GLO-1) considered as an important drug target for malaria. Our analysis shed light on the mechanism of action of GLR against P. falciparum.

MeSH terms

  • Glycyrrhiza*
  • Glycyrrhizic Acid / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Triterpenes*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Triterpenes
  • Glycyrrhizic Acid