Guaianolides in apiaceae: Perspectives on pharmacology and biosynthesis

Damian Paul Drew, Nadja Krichau, Kirsten Reichwald, Henrik Toft Simonsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The guaianolide group of sesquiterpene lactones contains a large number of compounds with biological activity. One of these guaianolides, thapsigargin from the genus Thapsia (Apiaceae), has been a subject of particular interest in recent years because of its ability to induce apoptosis, as the active part of a pro-drug, has produced promising results for the targeted treatment of prostate cancer. In this review, recent advances in understanding the biosynthetic pathway of sesquiterpenes in plants is described with a special emphasis on guaianolides, and a hypothetical pathway for the biosynthesis of thapsigargin is presented. Eighty-seven guaianolides from Apiaceae are presented. These compounds provide clues to possible enzymatic mechanisms generating the guaianolides in Apiaceae. Some of these 87 compounds have proven or might prove interesting with regards to their biological activity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhytochemistry Reviews
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)581-599
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Sesquiterpene lactones
  • Thapsigargin
  • SERCA inhibition


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