Phyllobilins - Bioactive Natural Products Derived from Chlorophyll - Plant Origins, Structures, Absorption Spectra, and Biomedical Properties

Planta Med. 2023 May;89(6):637-662. doi: 10.1055/a-1955-4624. Epub 2022 Oct 5.


Phyllobilins are open-chain products of the biological degradation of chlorophyll a in higher plants. Recent studies reveal that phyllobilins exert anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as activities against cancer cells, that contribute to the human health benefits of numerous plants. In general, phyllobilins have been overlooked in phytochemical analyses, and - more importantly - in the analyses of medicinal plant extracts. Nevertheless, over the past three decades, > 70 phyllobilins have been identified upon examination of more than 30 plant species. Eight distinct chromophoric classes of phyllobilins are known: phyllolumibilins (PluBs), phylloleucobilins (PleBs), phylloxanthobilins (PxBs), and phylloroseobilins (PrBs)-each in type-I or type-II groups. Here, we present a database of absorption and fluorescence spectra that has been compiled of 73 phyllobilins to facilitate identification in phytochemical analyses. The spectra are provided in digital form and can be viewed and downloaded at The present review describes the plant origin, molecular structure, and absorption and fluorescence features of the 73 phyllobilins, along with an overview of key medicinal properties. The review should provide an enabling tool for the community for the straightforward identification of phyllobilins in plant extracts, and the foundation for deeper understanding of these ubiquitous but underexamined plant-derived micronutrients for human health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chlorophyll A / metabolism
  • Chlorophyll* / analysis
  • Chlorophyll* / chemistry
  • Chlorophyll* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plants* / metabolism


  • Chlorophyll
  • Chlorophyll A
  • Plant Extracts
  • Phytochemicals