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Phytoecdysteroids are plant derived ecdysteroids. Phytoecdysteroids are a class of chemicals that plants synthesize for defense against phytophagous (plant eating)insects. These compounds are exact replicas of hormones used by the arthropod (insect) and crustacean (crab/lobster) families in the molting process known as ecdysis. When insects eat the plants with these chemicals they may prematurely molt, lose weight, or suffer other metabolic damage and die.

Chemically, phytoecdysteroids are classed as triterpenoids, the group of compounds that includes triterpene saponins, phytosterols, and phytoecdysteroids. Plants, but not animals, synthesize phytoecdysteroids from mevalonic acid in the mevalonate pathway of the plant cell using acetyl-CoA as a precursor.

Over 250 ecdysteroid analogs have been identified so far in plants, and Dinan has been theorized that there are over 1,000 possible structures which might occur in nature.[1] Dinan also theorizes that many more plants have the ability to "turn on" the production of phytoecdysteroids when under stress, animal attack or other conditions.[2]

These phytoecdysteroids have medicinal value and are part of herbal adaptogenic remedies like cordyceps, a fungus that grows out of the larvae of several insect species. (Although fungi are technically not plants, "fungalecdysteroid" does not exist as a category and phytoecdysteroid is the term used.) Medicinal plants tested to include phytoecdysteroids include Achyranthes bidentata [3], Tinospora cordifolia[4], Pfaffia paniculata[5] Leuzea carthamoides[6], Rhaponticum uniflorum (Zhang et al 2002), and Serratula coronata[7]. The ginsengs and Eleutherococcus have not been studied for these compounds but exhibit similar characteristics.[8]


  1. ^ Dinan L. 2001, Phytoecdysteroids: biological aspects. Phytochemistry 57:325-339
  2. ^ Dinan L, Savchenko T, Whiting P 2001, On the distribution of phytoecdysteroids in plants. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 58(8):1121-1132
  3. ^ Gao XY, Wang DW, Li FM 2000, Determination of ecdysterone in Achyranthes bidentata Bl. and its activity promoting proliferation of osteoblast-like cells. Yao Xue Xue Bao 35(11):868-870
  4. ^ Song CQ & RS Xu 1991, Phytoecdysones from the roots of Tinospora capillipes. Chinese Chemical Letters 2(1):13-14
  5. ^ Courtheyn D, Le Bizec B, Brambilla G et al 2002, Recent developments in the use and abuse of growth promoters.Analytica Chemica Acta 473:71-82
  6. ^ Pis J, Budesinsky M, Vokac K et al 1994, Ecdysteroids from the roots of Leuzea carthamoides. Phytochemistry 37(3):707-711
  7. ^ Bathori M, Kalasz H, Csikkelne SA et al 1999, Components of Serratula species; screening for ecdysteroid and inorganic constitutents of some Serratula plants. Acta Pharmacology Hungary 69(2):72-76
  8. ^ Phytoecdysteroids by Robyn Klein

See also

  • Plant defense against herbivory

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Phytoecdysteroids". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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