Special Issue "Can Botanical Toxins Enhance Human Health?"
A special issue of Toxins (ISSN 2072-6651).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2010)
Dr. Mark P. Mattson
Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute on Aging, Laboratory of Neurosciences, NIA Biomedical Research Center, Room 05C214, 251 Bayview Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21224, USA
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Interests: oxidative stress and calcium regulation; apoptosis (programmed cell death); neuroprotective signal transduction; synaptic signaling and plasticity; genetic aberrancies and neurodegeneration; diet and neuronal vulnerability; neuroendocrine and neuroimmune mechanisms
Plants, or fungi and bacteria living in or on plants, produce chemicals that function as natural pesticides to dissuade insects and other organisms from damaging the plant. Such "botanical pesticides" (BPs) are often concentrated in the most vulnerable and reproductively essential parts of the plant including the skin of fruits and the buds of vegetables. The structures of BPs vary considerably and include terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids, aldehydes, sulphides and limonoids. Human diets include BPs, with the amounts and types of BPs consumed being greater for vegetarians and those who eat organic produce. The purpose of this special issue of TOXINS is to describe evidence suggesting that at least some BPs may be responsible for health benefits of fruits, vegetables and herbal preparations. BPs may exert their beneficial effects by activating adaptive cellular stress response pathways, resulting in increased production of cytoprotective proteins including antioxidant enzymes, detoxifying enzymes and protein chaperones. Animals have evolved metabolic pathways that detoxify BPs, and so the "toxic" effect of the BPs is typically transient and mild. In contrast, man-made pesticides may not be metabolized and so accumulate in amounts that may damage cells and cause disease. The authors provide mini-reviews and their own perspectives on this issue including coverage of evolutionary considerations and the concept of "hormesis", BP structures and biological activities, examples of health benefits of specific BPs, cellular signal transduction mechanisms of BPs in mammals, and a consideration of BP metabolism. Finally, articles in this special issue of TOXINS consider the implications of research on BPs for drug discovery, and the prevention and treatment of human diseases.
Mark P. Mattson, Ph. D.
- antioxidant enzymes
- evolution; flavonoids
- organic vegetables and fruits
- pest resistance