Momordica charantia Linn, belonging to the family of Cucurbitaceae, is a useful medicinal and vegetable plant for human health and one of the most promising plants for diabetes. Cucurbitane-type triterpenoidsare the main active constituents of M. charantia and have a number of potential biological and pharmacological activities including antidiabetic, anti-obesity, anticancer, anti-HIV, antifeedant and antioviposition activities. Since the early 1960’s the constituents of bitter melon have been investigated and several classes of secondary metabolites including cucurbitane-type triterpenoids have been isolated. Charantin, an anti-diabetic compound, is a typical cucurbitane-type triterpenoid in M. charantia and is a potential and promising substance for the treatment of diabetes. This review summarized previous and current information regarding cucurbitane-type triterpenoids in M. charantia and provides new insights into its underlying chemical isolation and activities.
Key words: Biological and pharmacological activities, charantin, cucurbitane-type triterpenoids, diabetes, Momordica charantia Linn.
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