Ethnopharmacology and the development of natural PAF antagonists as therapeutic agents.


Braquet P, Hosford D




J Ethnopharmacol


Ginkgolides are unique twenty-carbon terpenes, occurring naturally only in the roots and leaves of Ginkgo biloba. The molecules incorporate a tert-butyl group and six 5-membered rings, and are specific and potent antagonists of platelet-activating factor (PAF), a potent inflammatory autacoid. Studies in animal models with the most potent ginkgolide, BN 52021, and other specific PAF antagonists have demonstrated that PAF plays an important role in pathologies such as asthma, shock, ischemia, anaphylaxis, graft rejection, renal disease, CNS disorders and numerous inflammatory conditions. Ginkgolides are now being developed as therapeutic agents and very promising results have been obtained in clinical trials on shock, organ preservation and thermal injury. In addition to ginkgolides, several other types of natural PAF antagonists have been identified from various medicinal plants. These compounds have not only helped to explain the pharmacological basis of several traditional medicines, but have also provided man with a valuable new class of therapeutic agents.