Natural products are compounds isolated from different natural sources such as plants, animals, microorganisms, insects, plant pathogens, endophytic bacteria and marine organisms. These are called secondary metabolites because they are formed as a result of enzymatic excision of primary metabolites (amino acids, sugars, vitamins, etc.). Terpenes belong to the largest class of secondary metabolites and are basically composed of five carbon isoprene units that are assembled with each other in thousands of ways (many isoprene units). Terpenes are simple hydrocarbons, while terpenoids are terpenoids with different functional groups and moving or removing oxidized methyl groups in different positions. Terpenoids are classified as monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes, hemi-terpenes and triterpenes based on their carbon units. Most structurally variant terpenoids are biologically active and are used worldwide to treat a wide range of diseases. Many terpenoids have inhibitory effects on different human cancer cells and are used as anticancer drugs, such as paclitaxel and its derivatives. Many condiments and aromatics are composed of terpenes because of their excellent aroma. Terpenes and their derivatives are used as antimalarial agents, such as artemisinin and related compounds. Meanwhile, terpenes play a wide range of roles in food, medicine, cosmetics, hormones, vitamins, etc.
Monoterpenes consist of 10 carbon atoms and two isoprene units with the molecular formula C10H16. These are naturally present in essential oils and fixed oils from plants and related sources. Monoterpenes are structurally classified as acyclic, monocyclic and bicyclic compounds. Compounds belonging to this group usually have strong aromas and odors and are used by many pharmaceutical companies. Mixtures of different monoterpene oils are used as fragrances in the manufacture of perfumes and other cosmetics. Most monoterpenes are highly bioactive and have strong antibacterial activity. Several studies have demonstrated in vitro and in vivo antitumor activity of many essential oils extracted from plants.
Terpenoids are secondary metabolites with a partial terpene backbone. Terpenoids are derived in part from the mevalonate pathway and are widely derived from animals, plants, bacteria, and fungi.
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