Qualitative and semiquantitative evaluation of the chemical constituents in the hydroethanol extract of
Currently, the number of diseases has been increasing and reaching the population directly, and the deliberate use of drugs is creating resistance of pathogens in several drugs, a fact evidenced by the increased ineffectiveness of drugs and the persistence of infections in the body. Given this, it is necessary to search for new alternative drugs that can effectively promote effective therapy. It is possible to highlight, in Brazil, the diversity of the Amazonian flora, which has several species with considerable potential as a source of new molecules with identified biological activity. Thus, a literature review was conducted in order to describe the applications of some Amazonian extracts and their chemical characteristics and biological activity. The Amazon rain forest has considerable diversity of plant species with biological properties that may be useful to public health. Further research is needed to identify new compounds with health benefits.
- Amazonian extracts
- biological activity
- chemical composition
- alternative treatment
The Amazon rain forest is known to have an extensive territory, including several Brazilian states and some other American countries, full of a considerable diversity of fauna and flora forming a rich ecosystem. Thus, due to the diversity of plants and the side effects of the drugs currently used, such as the increasing antimicrobial resistance, it is necessary to obtain new alternatives to enable the effective treatment and/or prevention of diseases .
Brazilian biodiversity is recognized as one of the most representative of the earth’s biosphere and plays an important role in its maintenance and in human health by providing basic products and ecosystem services. In addition, Brazilian Amazon provides a lot of products including food (such as livestock, fruits, and vegetables), wood, and even drugs .
Given this, the aim of this chapter is to conduct a review, presenting some Amazonian species included in Brazilian Amazon biodiversity, as well as the biological activity of their extracts.
Astrocaryum vulgare Mart(tucumã)
The Amazon has innumerable native species of fruit plants that have economic, technological, and nutritional potential, which has been arousing the interest of scientific studies in many fields, such as food science, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, flavoring, and essences. Allied to these virtues is the tucumã (
2.1 Chemical composition
The sticky and fibrous pulp is very rich in vitamin A, 90 times more than the avocado and 3 times higher than the carrot, also having high vitamin B (thiamine) and high vitamin C content, compared with the citrus fruits. Tucumã also has high energy value (247 calories per 100 grams) and presents relevant content of glycids (19.1%), lipids (16.6%), and proteins (3.5%) .
2.2 Biological activity
In addition to good nutritional values, tests were performed on hydroalcoholic, methanolic, and ethanolic extracts in the epicarp of the fruit, and according to Mathias , the tucumã presents better antioxidant activity of hydroalcoholic extracts. Thus, the antimicrobial activity of plant extracts was evaluated by determining the minimum inhibitory concentration . However, despite numerous other benefits presented in traditional acknowledgment, the tucumã extracts did not show antimicrobial activity against any of the strains (
In a recent study by Bernardes et al. , tucumã presented high medicinal potential due to its composition rich in carotenoids, flavonoids, fibers, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, indicating its use on lipid metabolism and the prevention of disorders from the cardiovascular system. In this study, hyperlipidemia was induced by intraperitoneal injection of Poloxamer 407 in rats resulting in an elevated blood lipid level (hyperlipidemia). Tucumã was not active in reducing these increasing lipids; however, it acts on modulation of purinergic enzymes that could present the ability to keep vascular homeostasis, reducing platelet aggregation and consequent arterothrombosis, which could be converted in reducing of hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular diseases.
According to Azevedo  the antimicrobial activity of hexanic and methanolic extracts of tucumã pulp were tested against standard strains of the bacteria
Tucumã is a fruit rich in bioactive compounds still little explored by the scientific community. Lectins are proteins capable of selective and reversible binding to various carbohydrate types without altering the chemical structure of any glycosyl linker residue. Tucumã mesocarp extract was obtained in 1:3 saline phosphate buffer (PBS) and was studied to verify its lectinic activity on crude extract and its fractions, by a hemagglutination assay which was performed against rabbit, human, and sheep blood. The results pointed to positive lectinic activity only by crude extracts, suggesting that the different fraction could act synergistically in crude extract, but fractioning technique used could have separated the synergistic active principles, making the obtained fractions inactive .
One study  measured the interference of oils extracted from tucumã in the composition of the dental biofilm and the progress of enamel demineralization and dental caries that is a multifactorial disease that is still prevalent worldwide. With relevant action of microorganisms in biofilm formation on the tooth surface, reducing of dental plaque formation bacteria could be reverted in decreasing of caries. The relationship between biofilm microorganisms and dietary elements (carbohydrates) may influence the etiology of this disease. The study performed an in situ work with volunteers that were kept with dental enamel blocks fixed on their palates, treated with solutions. One group used a sucrose solution (20%) and other groups with sucrose solution added with natural oils including tucumã (20%). Mineral loss of enamel blocks was assessed by Knoop surface microhardness and optical coherence tomography. There was a reduction of the count of cariogenic bacteria
Neuropsychiatric diseases carry with them a complicated pathophysiology, some of which have recently been associated with excess of free radicals compared with each cell’s intrinsic protective system (oxidative stress) and mitochondrial dysfunction, resulting in an exacerbated inflammatory response. Due to the complexity of the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric diseases, research with natural products with bioactive and pharmacological characteristics is necessary, such as the use of nanotechnology to improve the bioavailability of these compounds and with the potential to delay, prevent, and treat such pathologies. In one study , tucumã oil nanoemulsions were prepared to help protect their bioactive compounds and improve their biodistribution. The stability of the formulations was tested for 90 days under different storage conditions. The SH-SY5Y and B2 neuronal strains were used to evaluate the safety profile of free tucumã oil and its nanoemulsion, in addition to its power to activate cell proliferation. Based on the results initially observed, tucumã oil nanoemulsion was tested against inflammatory activity in BV-2 cells activated by lipopolysaccharides. The best conservation condition of nanoemulsion was under refrigeration. Regarding cytotoxicity evaluations in BV-2 and SH-SY5Y cells, no significant damage was observed. Regarding the anti-neuroinflammatory effect evaluations of tucumã nanoemulsion, it was observed that although nanoformulation did not maintain cell proliferation levels equal to the negative control, there was a reduction in cell reactivity, oxidative profile normalization, and cell cycle regulation. Thus, it can be suggested that tucumã oil has a potential anti-inflammatory effect and that through its nanostructuring this effect can be optimized and may perhaps overcome the blood–brain barrier and modulate possible chronic inflammatory stimuli that correlate with neuropsychiatric or neurodegenerative disease .
This genus is easily found in Central and South America. According to some authors, the fruit may be called by different names according to the region in which it is found, such as the following: the fruits of
3.1 Chemical composition
The fruit of pequi is rich in several important components, such as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), bioactive compounds, fibers, minerals , and carotenoids . The amount of each may vary according to the species analyzed, the environmental conditions in which it is inserted, the part of the fruit, as well as the type of analysis that was used .
The pulp of
Carotenoids are natural pigments of various fruits of Brazil. The presence of this pigment in
In the study by Chisté et al. , the pulp of
Carotenoid profile analysis in pequi pulp has been a challenge for researchers. For best results, various procedures for carotenoid extraction with different solvents, temperatures, time periods, and equipment were performed. In addition to the pulp and species extraction methodology, the ripening stage of the fruit also interferes with the composition, since carotenoid synthesis intensifies during the ripening period. Storage conditions need to be evaluated, as light-protected packaging minimizes compost loss .
The extraction of bioactive compounds from plant materials is strongly influenced by the solubility of each specific structure in the solvent used. Knowing this, Chisté et al.  evaluated
Regarding the total carotenoid content, the ethanol extract presented the highest value (0.1 mg/g), while the ethanol/water mixture presented the lowest value (0.01 mg/g). Since the composition of carotenoids from
According to the literature, the total phenolic content of pulp fluctuates even in the same species. Studies with
3.2 Biological activities
In addition to the nutritional benefits, pequi has important biological activities. These include healing, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial activities and protection against genome damage and oxidative damage. These benefits are mainly attributed to the presence of MUFA and phytochemical compounds .
Gallic acid and ellagic acid are the phenolic compounds most present in
Carotenoids and phenolic compounds obtained from
Doxorubicin (DOX), from the anthracycline group, is a drug given to treat cancer. However, it has side effects, such as cardiotoxicity exerted through the production of free radicals. In the study of Moura et al. , ethanolic extract of pequi bark (PSEE) was administered daily to DOX-treated rats; this led to increased activity of the enzyme glutathione reductase (GDH-Rd). This enzyme is responsible for maintaining the cellular protection system intact through a biochemical cascade. The presence of elevated GDH-Rd in the heart tissue of PSEE-treated rats showed higher antioxidant activity than those who did not undergo the treatment.
In addition to these effects, there are reports of the leishmanicidal effect of the fruit. Therefore, the search for alternative treatments, including the use of natural products with less toxicity than conventional treatments, has become more frequent .
In leishmaniasis disease, an inflammation must occur to control the parasitic load, being triggered by the interaction of the parasite with the host immune cells. However, an exacerbated response can cause tissue damage, similar to those seen in leishmaniasis. Thus, an antioxidant action of
The study by Tomiotto-Pellissier  aimed to verify the leishmanicidal action of
Its antimicrobial effect has been tested by Alves et al. . The ethanolic extracts of peel and pulp of
The use of this plant for medicinal purposes is not restricted to the use of its leaf or fruit extracts. The structures used are the most diverse as stem bark, leaves, and roots and are prepared, for example, by infusion, cooking, maceration and syrup for phytotherapeutic extraction, and isolation of the active compounds. Such extracts can be used for anti-inflammatory, healing, soothing, influenza, cough, pneumonia, gastritis, ulcer, burning urethra, stroke, anemia, and more, showing how this plant is extremely important for culture and traditional popular medicine in Brazil .
4.1 Chemical composition
In the work of Veras et al. , leaves of
Aguiar et al.  evaluated chemical composition of ripe and unripe peels of
The crude ethanolic extract and ethyl acetate fraction obtained from stem barks of a tree of
4.2 Biological activities
Veras et al.  stated that the biological effects of the compounds described above (
In a research conducted by the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, the effectiveness of the essential oil of jatobá leaf (
In other work from the Federal University of Sergipe,
Aguiar et al.  evaluated the activity of essential oil of ripe and unripe fruits of
According to a study by Mourão and Beltrati , in which they characterized the morphology and anatomy of the fruit, it was possible to typify the apricot as a berry, whose “bark” consists of the epicarp and mesocarp that together represent 13.3% of the fruit’s weight. The endocarp represents 70.7%, and the remainder of the fruit is represented by the large seeds, which account for 16% of the fruit weight .
The first commercial orchards were established in the mid-1980s, with seedlings that originated from seeds. Due to this fact, there was a large proportion of male plants and several phenotypic variations in the chemical and physical characteristics of the fruits. As an example, from a sample of 50 fruits originating from 10 different mother plants, it was possible to identify an average fruit weight of 852.8 g, with minimum and maximum limits of 502.3 g and 1443.0 g. Thus, it is possible to verify that the fruit weight is derived from the genetic origin trait, although it suffers a lot of influence from the environment .
The apricot tree can be disseminated through a sexual or asexual route. However, being a species that presents male plants and hermaphrodite plants, the orientation is that their diffusion is effected by vegetative processes. Thus, the most widely used method is grafting. Its spread by grafting ensures early production and enables the orchard to have only hermaphrodite plants .
It is grown in igapós and flooded river banks in the Amazon region, mainly in the state of Pará. It’s a medium-sized tree that can reach 20 m in height; the apricot easily propagates through seeds, which germinate between 12 and 18 days. The plant can start flowering from 6/8 years .
5.1 Chemical composition
Through the study by Nascimento , it was possible to identify the composition of apricot, which has a vitamin content of 27.26 ± 1.03 mg of ascorbic acid/100 g in the apricot pulp. It was also possible to characterize the carotenoid content in apricot pulp which was 161.34 ± 0.40 bs and dehydrated product 103.53 ± 0.65 bs (μg/100 g β-carotene). By analyzing the results of quantifying antioxidant activity from the substitution calculations in the equation of the Trolox curve line, according to the ABTS method, a value of 31.96 ± 0.76 μM Trolox/g bs was obtained from fresh apricot. The analyses that dealt with the quantification of antioxidant activity from the consumption calculations of the DPPH radical obtained a value of 192.51 ± 0.13 fruit/g DPPH bs in the apricot sample in natura.
5.2 Biological activity
Regarding its biological activity, it is possible to identify, through studies found in the literature, extracts of
According to studies by Toma et al.  that analyze the action of apricot extracts as antiulcerants in mice, the extracts showed antiulcerogenic effects with significant reduction in the damage of gastric lesions through the model of anti-inflammatory-induced injury. In NSAID/cholinomimetic-induced model, ethanolic and dichloromethane extracts of apricot showed antiulcerogenic effects with significant reduction in the damage of these gastric lesions by 36 (8.3 ± 2.0 mm) and 42% (7.5 ± 1.4 mm), respectively, as compared to the control group (13.0 ± 0.9 mm), increased the pH values, and promoted reduction of acid production.
According to the studies by Braga et al. , the antioxidant activity and the quantification of bioactive compounds (total carotenoids, CT; total polyphenols, PT; and total flavonols, FT) and the physical and centesimal characterization of the compounds of apricot fruits (
According to a study found in the literature, it was possible to identify high trypanocidal activity in extracts of
Platonia insignisMart (Bacuri)
Ethnobotanical utility concerns the use of oil extracted from its seeds, such as in the production of soap and as anti-inflammatory. The seeds are used to make bacuri oil, which is popularly used in the treatment of skin diseases and as a wound healer in animals. It is noteworthy that the investigation of
6.1 Chemical composition
Rocha  evaluated the chemical composition of
|Coumarins||Presence of substances|
|Condensed tannins||Strongly positive|
|Anthocyanidins and anthocyanidins||Negative|
|Flavones, flavonols, and xanthones||Negative|
|Chalcones and aurones||Negative|
6.2 Biological activity
Phenolic compounds present in the extract, such as catechins and flavononols, are widely distributed in the plant kingdom and associated with various biological activities, such as the fact that flavonoids have activity on capillary, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antitumor, and hormonal permeabilities [40, 41]. Among the phenolic compounds, flavonoids were found in large quantities in bacuri extract, which exhibit several biological properties, such as anti-inflammatory, hormonal, and antioxidant action .
In addition, saponins can be found in tissues susceptible to bacteria, fungi or insects, due to their relationship with the plant defense system. This substances have hemolytic activity, formed with hypocholesteromic antifungal action and with the ability to change the permeability of membranes [41, 43, 44].
Finally, there are compounds in bacuri, such as kaempferol and quercetin glycosides, that express significance in the regulation of hyperglycemia, due to the strong stimulation of glucose and oleic acid absorption .
Given the information previously constructed, it is possible to infer, therefore, that the Amazon rain forest has a considerable diversity of plants, which have several biological activities that may be of great concern for public health application. This is a little example of the power of biodiversity present in the Brazilian Amazon and of the natural resources with biopotential for treatment of a large number of diseases, being a promising source of new drugs that could be alternatives for the traditional drugs used nowadays that present side effects, such as toxicity to the patient and emergence of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, among others. Thus, many new studies are needed to identify compounds with desirable health activities, and the Amazon, by their potential biodiversity, seems to be the best place to look.
The authors thank the support of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), and the Minas Gerais State Research Support Foundation (FAPEMIG).