Family Juncaceae: promising source of biologically active natural phenanthrenes

Csaba Bús, Barbara Tóth, Dóra Stefkó, Judit Hohmann, A. Vasas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

5 Citations (Scopus)


Phenanthrenes represent a relatively small group of aromatic secondary metabolites, which can be divided into three main subgroups (mono-, di-, and triphenanthrenes). Phenanthrenes are reported as an intensively researched field in phytochemistry according to their structural diversity and promising biological activities. Because of their limited occurrence phenanthrenes are considered to be as important taxonomic markers. Juncaceae is a relatively large plant family divided into seven genera of which Juncus and Luzula are the most important ones from phytochemical and pharmacological points of view. To date, almost one hundred natural phenanthrenes have been isolated but only from eight (Juncus acutus, J. effusus, J. inflexus, J. maritimus, J. roemerianus, J. setchuensis, J. subulatus, and Luzula luzuloides) Juncaceae species, including mono-, and diphenanthrenes, and phenanthrene glucosides. Great deal of the isolated compounds are substituted with a vinyl group. This substitution is characteristic exclusively to Juncaceae species. Juncusol (2) was isolated from every investigated species. The richest source of phenanthrenes, as well as the most extensively investigated species is J. effusus. Several isolated compounds possessed different biological activities, e.g. antiproliferative, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, spasmolytic, anxiolytic, and antialgal effects. Among them, dehydroeffusol (60) is the most promising one, as it showed antimicrobial, anxiolytic, sedative, spasmolytic, cellular protective and antiproliferative activities. The aim of this review is to summarize the occurrence of phenanthrenes in the family Juncaceae, and give a comprehensive overview of their isolation, structural characteristics and biological activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833-851
Number of pages19
JournalPhytochemistry Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Biological activities
  • Juncaceae
  • Juncus
  • Luzula
  • Phenanthrenes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Plant Science

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