An Overview of Saponins – A Bioactive Group

Linh T. NGUYEN, Anca C. FĂRCAȘ, Sonia A. SOCACI, Maria TOFANĂ, Zorița M. DIACONEASA, Oana L. POP, Liana C. SALANȚĂ


Saponins are an important group of plant secondary metabolites that are widely distributed throughout the plant kingdom. These biomolecules can be divided into two main classes represented by triterpenoid and steroid glycosides whose structure varies according to the number of sugar units attached in different positions. Despite saponins have been historically considered as anti-nutritional factors, recent studies have indicated that some saponin stereoisomers may show a number of pharmacological activities, such as anti-tumor, antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and neuro-protective activities. Nerveless, more attention in studying this group is necessary due to the fact that many active mechanisms are not fully elucidated. To have a systematic overview of saponin compounds, this review will describe the main aspects related to their structure, bioactivities and potential applications.


bioactive compounds; saponins; secondary metabolites; steroid glycosides; triterpenoids.

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