Natural product coumarins: biological and pharmacological perspectives

M. Iftikhar Hussain, Qamar Abbas Syed, Muhammad Nasir Khan Khattak, Baraa Hafez, Manuel J. Reigosa, Ali El-Keblawy

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2019, Institute of Molecular Biology, Slovak Academy of Sciences. Plants produce and release a vast variety of secondary metabolites with diversified functions, and possess ecological, toxicological and biological effects that mimic the activities of synthetic chemicals. Coumarins extracted from bacteria, fungi and many edible plants are widely used for their antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-HIV and anticancer activities. This review presents a concise summary based on the latest knowledge of the biological and pharmaceutical uses of coumarin and its derivatives, including an evaluation of future therapeutic potential. The presence of coumarins in various plant organs like fruits, seeds, roots, leaves and latex supplement recent work reported in scientific literature related to these compounds and their development. Due to low production in plants, the upscaling and industrial scale production, commercialization and industry demand of coumarins has faced hurdles. We searched Google Scholar and Web of Science for relevant literature upto 2018 using the keywords pharmaceutical, biological activities and coumarins. This review has thoroughly overviewed the related facts and figures about coumarins and its derivatives, especially in terms of biological and pharmaceutical properties including anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-diabetic, anticoagulant, estrogenic, dermal photosensitizing, vasodilator, molluscacidal, antithelmintic, sedative and hypnotic, analgesic, hypothermic, anti-cancer activity, anti-oxidant, anti-parasitic, antihelmintic, anti-proliferative, anti-convulsant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hypertensive activities. The pharmaceutical impact of coumarins on public health is a complex phenomenon, with several questions in relation to safety during medical therapies and consumption through diet. The present review focuses on coumarin clinical studies in the treatment of various chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and HIV. However, further research and review are necessary to broaden the therapeutic effectiveness of coumarin in patients suffering from such ailments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)863-888
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019


    • Antibacterial
    • Antimicrobial activity
    • Multifunctionality
    • Pharmacopeia
    • Secondary metabolites


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