Scholarly article on topic 'Plant latex: A natural source of pharmaceuticals and pesticides'

Plant latex: A natural source of pharmaceuticals and pesticides Academic research paper on "Chemical sciences"

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Int J Green Pharm
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Academic research paper on topic "Plant latex: A natural source of pharmaceuticals and pesticides"

3 Plant latex: A natural source of pharmaceuticals ^ and pesticides

Ravi K. Upadhyay

Department of Zoology, D. D. U. Gorakhpur University, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India

In recent times use of plant natural products has increased tremendously, and there is a very high demand of herbal products for therapeutic, clinical, agricultural purposes. Plant latex is a rich source of pharmaceuticals, pesticides and immune allergens. It also contains important biomolecules such as glycosides, tannins, phytosterols, Flavonoids, acetogenins and saponins, which show diverse biolgical activities against bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoans, nematodes, insects, and cancer and tumours. It is also used as disinfectant, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiproliferative agent that provides protection in wounds. It contains wide variety of industrially important metabolic substances which can be harvested, modified, quenched, and polymerized easily for making goods and materials by up-gradation of technology. No doubt it is a future raw material for many bioengineering and biotechnological industries.

Key words: Acetogenins, bioactivity, flavaonoids, plant latex, saponins


Latex is a natural plant polymer secreted by highly specialized cells known as laticifers. Latex is milky fluid secreted by ducts of laticiferous tissue[1] and mainly flow inside laticifers including roots, stems, leaves and fruits of all flowering plants.[2] It is an emulsion like sticky material that exudes from various plant parts after having a small tissue injury. In most plant species latex is squirt out as white glue from bark of plants. It is a complex mixture of proteins, alkaloids, starch, sugars, oils, tannins, resins and gums.[3] In most plants, latex color is normally white, yellow, orange, or scarlet but its color changes after an air exposure. It is stable dispersion of polymer micro-particles in an aqueous medium that coagulates on exposure to air. Latex from few plants contains an elastic polymer related to rubber[4] and form films without releasing potential organic solvent.[2] It also contains cysteine proteases, profilins and chitin-related proteins that act as catalytic enzymes[5] and provide defense against phytopathogenic fungi and other bacterial infections.[67] It serves as defense material and prevents herbivorous insects from feeding.[8] In addition, plant latex also contains hazardous chemical

substances that cause allergic reactions and induce immediate-type hypersensitivity in them. In addition plant latex contains wide diversity of bioactive chemicals which showed different biological activities such as anti-carcinogenic, anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, vasodilatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiparasitic and insecticidal.[9] It also has wider applications in the field of medical sciences and is used for preparation of adhesives, polymers, films, gloves and other important diagnostic materials. Today, it is one of most important natural source of immune allergens, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and industrial products. With the advent of new technology plant latex may have many more applications if it is used as a basic raw material for preparation of household and immunodiagnostic materials.

Uses of Latex

Plant latex has wider ethno-pharmacological applications as it is used by local tribal communities for wound healing, burns, joint pain and for controlling worm infections. Plant latex used to make paintings, elastics, swim caps, condoms, catheters, medical gloves and balloons and also used to prepare chewing gum. It is mixed in cement as an additive and provides quick physical strength for solidification. Latex, derivative styrene is used to prepare ELISA plates and other immuno diagnostic materials. Plant latex contains a mixture of many bioactive components that displayed multiple biological activities such as proteolytic,[5] anthelmintic,[10] insecticidal,[8] anti-inflammatory,[11] antioxidant[12] and anticancer activities.[13] Plant latex is used to treat parasitic infections and as an anticoagulant.[[14] Few important latex secreting plant

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Address for correspondence: Dr. Ravi K. Upadhyay, Department of Zoology, D. D. U. Gorakhpur University, Gorakhpur - 273 009, Uttar Pradesh, India. E-mail: Received: 14-09-2011; Accepted: 22-09-2011

such as Papaver somniferum provide opium that contains opiates and alkaloids which have very high medicinal value and are used for various medicinal purposes [Figure 1].[15] Similarly, proanthocyanidin isolated from Jatropha curcas latex shows enormous protection to wounds,[16] while latex from Croton bonplandianum exhibits very high toxicity

and inhibit mycelium growth of Microsporum gypseum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes.[17] Latex is also used in fishing,[18] veterinary[19] and human medicine,[20] as well as biofuel.[21] Latex from Synadenium umbellatum is used as an anticoagulant and also to treat diabetes mellitus and


Figure 1: Showing major components isolated from latex of different plant species | July-September 2011 | International Journal of Green Pharmacy

Composition of Plant Latex

The molecular formula of latex is C3H3N (carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen). It contains so many constituents such as glycoloipids, alkaloids, acids, laticifer proteins, acid phosphatase from Euphorbia characias latex.[23] Latex from Hevea brasiliensis contains glycolipids i.e. steryl glucosides (SG), esterified steryl glucosides (ESG), monogalactosyl diacylglycerols (MGDG) and digalactosyl diacylglycerols (DGDG) [Figure 1]. It also contains stigmasterol, |3-sitosterol and A (5)-avenasterol[24] [Figure 1]. Latex is a complex mixture of secondary metabolites[25] [Table 1]. It contains many phytochemicals such as proteins, alkaloids, sterols, fatty acids, starches, sugars, oils, tannins, resins, and gums, and many enzymatic proteins such as proteases chitenases, lipases, peptidases, esterase, thrombins, plasmins, peroxidases, papain hevein, lectins and diversity of allergens125,261 [Table 2]. Most of them show proteolytic and protease activity. Latex also contains glycosides, tannins, phytosterols, flavaonoids, acetogenins and saponins, which show diverse biolgical activities against bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoans, nematodes, insects and cancer and tumour cell lines. Latex from fruits and pollens also contains profilins, which evoke allergic sensitization in man and generate high levels of cross-reactive IgE antibodies against plant food.

Latex Defense

Latex plays an important role in plant-insect interactions. It is considered as analogous to animal venom because it contains cysteine proteases, which provide defense against herbivorous insects (Kitajima et al.)[8] and phytopathogenic fungi.[27] Similarly, both osmatin and thumatin proteins isolated from Calatropis procera, were found effective against fungi Fusarium solini (IC50 67 |jg/ml), Nurospora (IC50C 57.5 |jg/ml), and Collettricum gloesoriodes 32.1 |jg/ ml).[28] Similar activity is reported in Pulmera rubra, and Euphorbia tirucallai latex proteins against phytopathogens.[27] Similarly, a protein secreted peroxidase class III isolated from Euphorbia characias acts as a catalytic enzyme.[23] More usually, plant latex contains defense protein MLX56 and cardenoides, which operate inducible defense in infected plants[29] and also show complicated molecular interactions to herbivores.[30] Plants possess unique defense molecules mainly chitinases which effect insect skin.[31] Similarly, papain and cystein proteases found in Papaya latex protect papaya from herbivorous insects.[32] Similarly, chitinase-like proteins abundantly occur in mulberry latex play a crucial role in defense against herbivorous insects.[33] Contrary to this, vein cutting behaviour in insects counter play latex defense.[34]

Anticancer Activity

Plant latex is used as traditional medicine for treatment of cancer. It increases vascular permeability and allows a

variety of cytokines and growth factors to reach the damaged tissue. It also induces angiogenesis and help to repair wound, inhibit tumoural growth and do revascularization of tissues. Few active secondary metabolites such as diterpenoids, curcusone C, curcusone D, multidione, 15-epi-4Z-jatrogrossidentadion, 4Z-jatrogrossidentadion, 4E-jatrogrossidentadion, 2-hydroxyisojatrogrossidion and 2-epi-hydroxyisojatrogrossidion isolated from Jatropha curcas showed strong cytotoxic effect against L5178y mouse lymphoma cells.[35] Latex of Jatropha curcas contains alkaloids including Jatrophine, Jatropham and curcain which show anti-cancerous properties. Similarly, alkaloids such as, vinblastine and vincristine isolated from Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle) are used to cure Hodgkin's disease and to control acute lymphocytic leukemia in children.[36] Similar activity against leaukemia and tumour was observed in Synadenium umbellatum Pax, popularly known as "cola-nota". It shows both mutagenic and antimutagenic effects in bone marrow cells of mice. [22] Moreover, a cysteine protease (CMS2MS2) isolated from Carica cardamarcensis latex enhance proliferation of L929 fibroblast and activate the extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase and shows mitogenic effect on fibroblast.[37] Similar, antitumour activity is reported in barks and root extracts of some Apocynaceae plants[38] such as Allamanda,[39] Alstonia,[40] Calotropis,[41] Catharanthus,[42] Cerbera,[43] Nerium,[44] Plumeria[45] and Tabernaemontana,[46] F. carica latex.[47] Himatanthus drasticus janaguba", (Apocynaceae) latex is highly rich in triterpenes such as Lupeol, betulin, betulinic acid and calenduladiol and is used for the treatment of tumours and ulcers[48] due to the presence of a wide diversity of compounds, display high substrate specificity[49] [Table 2].

Antiproliferative Activities

Latex from Alstonia angustiloba, Calotropis gigantea, Dyera costulata, Kopsia fruticosa and Vallaris glabra belonging to family Apocynaceae showed antiproliferative (APF) activities due to presence of saponins, tannins, cardenolides and terpenoids [Figure 1].[38] Similarly, cardenolides podophyllotoxin and its analogues, betulinic acid isolated from Pentopetia androsaemifolia showed anti-proliferative activity.[50] Besides, Alstonia angustiloba, Calotropis gigantea, Catharanthus roseus, Nerium oleander, Plumeria obtusa, and Vallaris glabra displayed positive APF (anti-proliferative) activities [Table 1]. Similarly, Dichloromethane (DCM) MeOH extracts of C. gigantea, and V. glabra showed strong APF activities against human cancer cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231.[38] Besides this Croton lecheri also show great antiproliferative potential.[51] Moreover, Garcinia mangostana latex inhibits proliferation of SKBR3 human breast cancer cell line[52] while latex from Euphorbiaceae family possess specific diterpenes, commonly known as phorboids, which activate protein

Table 1: List of common and scientific names of certain latex bearing plants and their pharmaceutical activities

Common name Scientific name Family Activity

Mexican Poppy Argemone ochroleuca Papaveraceae Antibacterial

Night Jasemine Allamanda blanchetti Apocynaceae Anti-cancer, anti-proliferative

Bush Allamanda Allamanda schottii Apocynaceae Anti-cancer, anti-proliferative

Anjeer Ficus carica Moraceae Antibacterial, antifungal, anthelmintic

Autograph tree Clusia glandifolia Cluciaceae Antibacterial

Badi Dudhi Euphorbia hirta Euphorbiaceae Wound healing, anti-tumour, anti-protozoan

Bargad Ficus bengalensis Moraceae Anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-arthritic

Biodiesel plant Jatropha curcas Euphorbiaceae Antimicrobial, anticancer and wound healing properties

Common fig Carica cardamarcensis Caricaceae Anti-cancer, anti-proliferative

Chalate Ficus insipida Moraceae Anthelmintic

Ban tulsi Croton bonplandianum Euphorbiaceae Antifungal

Dragons blood Croton lecheri Euphorbiaceae Anti-proliferative

Spurge Euphorbia characias Euphorbiaceae Plant defence

Hierba mala Euphorbia cotimfolia Euphorbiaceae Antiviral

Mangosteen Garcinia mangostana Guttiferae Anti-proliferative, anticancer

Gazyummaria Ficus microcarpa Moraceae Antifungal

Gular Ficus glomerata Moraceae Antibacterial, antitumour, antiprotozoan

Hyaena-poison Hyaenanche globosa Euphorbiaceae Antibacterial

Coralbush Jatropha multifolia Euphorbiaceae Wound healing

Rose Periwinkle Madagascar periwinkle Apocynaceae Anti-Hodgkin's disease, Anti-lymphocytic leukemia

Madar Calotopis procera Asclepiadaceae Larvicidal, anthelmintic, antifungal, wormicidal, useful in snake bite

Milk weeds Asclepias sp. Asclepiadaceae Wound healing properties and treatment of digestive disorders

Mohan Euphorbia rogleana Euphorbiaceae Antibacterial and anti-fungal

Oleander Nerium oleander Apocynaceae Cytotoxic, anti-tumour

Opium poppy Papaver somniferum Euphorbiaceae Anti-allergic, narcotic, insecticidal

Papita Carica papaya Caricaceae Antibacterial, antifungal and anthelmintic

Persian poppy Papaver bracteatum Euphorbiaceae Insecticidal

Pili kaner Thivetia nerrifolia Euphorbiaceae Anti-inflammatory, antitumour, anti-arthritic

Pipal Ficus religiosa Moraceae Antihelmintic

White frangipani Plumeria rubra Apocynaceae Cytotoxic, anti-tumour

Rubber plant Ficus elastica Moraceae Antibacterial, anticancer and antioxidant

Rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis Euphorbiaceae Antimicrobial, wound healing, analgesic

Salaad patta Lactuca sativa Asteraceae Antifungal

Sandhill milkweed Asclepias humistrata Asclepiadaceae Insecticidal

Sapthaparna Alstonia macrophylla Apocynaceae Anti-cancer, antiproliferative

Sapthaparna Alstonia scholaris Apocynaceae Anti-cancer, anti-proliferative

Spurge Euphorbia lacteal Euphorbiaceae Antiviral (HIV)

Sucuba Himatanthus articulates Apocynaceae Antifungal and antiviral

Sudha Euphorbia nerrifolia Euphorbiaceae Anti-antiarthritic, anti-cunvulsant, anti-diabetic, antitumour, anti-allergic

Avelos Synadenium umbellatum Euphorbiaceae anticoagulant anti-diabeic and anti-tumour

Tridhara Euphorbia antiqunum Euphorbiaceae Immunosuppressive

Wild fig Ficus virgatalatex Moraceae Insecticidal

kinase C enzyme and show tumour demoting effects due to reduced cell proliferation.1531 These also demonstrate biological activities such as anti-MDR, antiproliferative and tubulin-interacting effects.1531

Pesticidal Activity of Plant Latex

Latex from several species showed deleterious effects

on insects and impose very high toxicity, mortality, antifeedant, growth and reproductive inhibitory activity in them.[541 Latex from few plant families such Annonaceae, Solanaceae Asteraceae, Cladophoraceae, Labiatae, Meliaceae, Oocystaceae and Rutaceae, possess phytochemicals, which show insecticidal activity.[55-57] It shows toxic effects against Culex quinquefasciatus,[bS]

Table 2: Biological activities of chemical compound isolated fron latex of different plant species

Latex plant Compound isolated Biological activity

1-deoxynojirimycin Papaver somniferum Insecticidal

2-epihydroxy isojatrogrossidion Jatropha curcas Lymphoma cells

Alkaloids Stychnos usambarensis Antiamoebic and antiplasmodial

Aminoquinoline alkaloid Cinchona species Anti-malarial

Anabasine, Luinine Anabasin aphylla Mosquitocidal

Anthrone (Aloin) Aloe harlana Antioxidant

Calanolide C. Lanigerum Anti-HIV

Calotropis procera Inhibt growth of phytopathogens

Cardenolides Calotropis gigantea Anti-proliferative

Cassane- and nor-cassane Caesalpinia crista Anti-malarial

Chitinase Mullberry Defence against herbivore insects

Chromone (7-omethylaloeresin) Aloe harlana Antioxidant

Clerodane diterpene Casearia sylvestris Trypanosomiasis

Continifolin Euphorbia colimfolia Anti-HIV

Cotinifolin (metalloproteinase) Euphorbia cotimfolia Anti-viral

Crofelemer Croton lecheri Antidarrheal

Curcusone C, Curcusone D Jatropha curcas Cytotoxic

Cystein protease Carica cardamarcanus Enhance proliferation of fibroblast

Diterpenes Euphorbia lacteal Anti-HIV

Diterpenoides Euphorbia lacteal Anti-HIV

Flavonoides Jatropha curcas Antioxidant

Jatrophine, Curcain Jatropha curcas Cytitoxic effects

Lactctopicrin, Lactucin Lactura virosa Neurotoxic to insects

Lactucin Lactuca virosa Anti-inflammatroy and analgesic

Lactucin Euphorbia hirta Anti-inflammatroy

Lactucopicrin, Lactucin Lactuca virsa Analgesic and anti-inflammatroy

Lectins Synadenium carinatum Leismania amagensis

Lupeol, Calenduladiol Himatanthus drasticus Anti-tumour

Lupeols Cybistax antisyphilitica Antimalarial activity

N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosidimase Carica candamarcensis Inhibt growth of phytopathogens

Nicotine, anabasine, lupinine Anabasis aphylla Mosqiutocidal

Opium alkaloids Papaver sominiferum Anti-allergic, narcotic

Opium Papaver sominferum Glycosidase inhibition in insects

Papain, Protease Carica papaya Proteolytic

Plumeria rubra Inhibt growth of phytopathogens

Poly-o-acylated jatrophene Pedilanthus Antiplasmodial


Polyphenolic contents Jatropha curcas Antioxidant

Proanthocyanidin Jatropha curcas Antioxidant

Proanthocyanidin Jatropha multifolia Wound healing

Profillins, Hevamine Heave brasilensis Insecticidal

Protein kinase Calotropis procera Mitogenic effect on fibroblast

Proteinase Ficus carica Proteolytic

Quassinoids Brucea javanica Anti-plasmodial

Quinoline alkaloids Galipea longijlora Anti-malaria and


Saponins Kopsia fruticosa Anti-proliferative

Saponins, cardenolides Calotropis gigantea Anti-proliferative

Terpenoides Nerium oleander Cytotoxic

Tirucallol Euphorbia lactea Supress ear edema in mice

Triacylglycerol lipase Carica papaya Antioxidant

Trpenoides Vallaris glabra Anti-proliferative

Tulin and hyenanchin H. globosa Inhibit fungal growth


Table 2: Continued

Latex plant Compound isolated Biological activity

Vinblastine, Vincristine Madagascar periwinkle Acute lympohocyteleukaemia

Vinblastine, Vincristine Madagascar periwinkle Cytotoxic

A-D mannosidase Calotropis procera Anti-fungal

Sarcophaga haemorrhoidalis159 and Musca domestical Latex of C. procera also affects gonotrophic cycles of Aedes aegypti[61] and shows inhibitory effects on egg hatching and larval development.1621 Similarly, bark extract of Goniothalamus macrophyllus is used as mosquito repellent1571 while leaves and seeds of Annonaceous acetogenins showed antifeedant and insecticidal properties1631 [Table 1]. Latex from Asclepias humistrata (sandhill milkweed) kills newly hatched monarch butterfly caterpillars by traping.[64] Similarly, latex of Calotropis procera and Ficus racemosa were found effective against fourth instar larvae of the lymphatic filariasis vector Culex quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae)[65] wheaeas Calotropis procera latex possess high mosquitocidal potential.[58] Plant latex from the Russian weed Anabasis aphylla contain alkaloids like nicotine, anabasine, methyl anabasine and lupinine and kill larvae of Culex pipiens Linn., Cx. territans Walker, and Cx. quinquefasciatus Say.[55] However, Persian poppy (P. bracteatum) and opium poppy (P. somniferum) latex contains glycosidase inhibitors 1,4-dideoxy-1,4-imino-d-arabinitol (d-AB1) and 1-deoxynojirimycin (DNJ) which show insecticidal properties.[55] Similarly, cysteine protease in latex of papaya (Carica papaya) and wild Fig (Ficus virgatalatex) have shown high toxicity to caterpillars of herbivorous insects.[56] Lectin from barks of H. brasilensis shows insecticidal actcity[66] [Table 1].

Antiviral Activity of Latex

Plant latex contains potential inhibitors of cell wall and contribute to the development of antiviral drugs. The latex of Fig fruit (Ficus carica) is used in traditional medicine for the treatment of skin infections of viral origin. It's hexanic and hexane-ethyl acetate (v/v) extracts inhibited virus replication and work against herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1), echovirus type 11 (ECV-11) and adenovirus (ADV) infections.[67] Similarly, cotinifolin a metalloproteinase purified from latex of Euphorbia cotinifolia hydrolyzes natural substrates such as casein, azoalbumin and hemoglobin with high specific activity. It shows caseinolytic activity.[68] Similarly, diterpenes isolated from Euphorbia lacteal and Euphorbia laurifolia showed differential activity against HIV-1[69] while calanolide (E-2) isolated from C. lanigerum var. austrocoriaceum and C. teysmanni var. inophylloide showed anti-HIV activity.[70] The antiviral activity of Indian medicinal plant extract Swertia chirata was tested against Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type-1.[71] Similarly latex from Ficus nitida was found active against plant viruses yellow mosaic virus

(ZYMV); broad bean yellow mosaic virus (BYMV), bean-tobacco necrosis virus (TNV).[72] Similarly, 3-methylethers of quercetin and kaempferol isolated from Euphorbia lathyris,[73] Phyllanthus sp.[74] showed antiviral activity. Similarly, 3-methoxyflavones works as a potent inhibitor of cell synthesis[751 [Table 21.

Anti-protozoan Activity

Plant latex is a natural source of antiprotozoal drugs.[76] However, so many antimalarial agents have been isolated from plant sources[77] that lead to become efficient phytomedicines. However, plant latex from few plant species such as Himatonthus sucouba was found active against intracellular amastigotes,[78] while C. procera shows schizonticidal activity.[791 Similarly, lectins isolated from Synadenium carinatum latex exhibit anti-protozoan activity against Leishmania, amazonensis promastigotes/ amastigotes.[80] Similarly C. scoparioides shows antimalarial, leishmanicidal and trypanocidal activity in vitro.[81] However, terpinoides from Guarea rhophalocarpa showed antiprotozoal activity against Leishmania donovani promastigotes and Trypanosoma brucei brucei blood stream trypomastigotes[821 while neolignans isolated from Virola species[831 and carbocyclic triterpenes and biflavonoids from Celaenodendrum mexicanum showed antiprotozoal activity.[76] Few natural products such as bisbenzylisoquinoline, quinones, flavonoids and coumarins isolated from Triclisia patens and Galphimia glauca have shown antiprotozoal activity in vitro[841 and were found active against Leishmania donovani and Trypanosoma brucei brucei in vitro.[85] Similar, antiamoebic and antiplasmodial activity was reported in alkaloids isolated from Strychnos usambarensis[861 and quassinoids from Brucea javanica fruits against Plasmodium falciparum. Similarly, monomeric isoquinoline alkaloids,[871 parthenin and its derivatives showed antiplasmodial, antiamoebic activity in vitro.[88] Moreover, Croton lechleri latex contains crofelemer, which shows anti-secretory antidiarrheal activity[89] while poly-o-acylated jatrophene diterpenes isolated from latex of Pedilanthus tithymaloides have shown antiplasmodial activity[901 [Table 21.

Similarly, Quinine an aminoquinoline alkaloid isolated from the bark of Cinchona species (Rubiaceae) is used as strong anti-malarial drug. Similar antimalarial activity is reported in cassane- and norcassane-type diterpenes isolated from Caesalpinia crista,[911 dihydrochalcones and flavanones from Piper hostmannianum var. berbicense[92] and alkaloids from Teclea trichocarpa.[93] Similarly, furoquinoline

and acridone[941 and indole alkaloids[771 were found active against Plasmodium falciparum.[941 Quinoline alkaloids Isolated from Galipea longijlora, were found active against malaria and cutaneous leishmaniasis.[951 Similarly bioorganic constituents isolated from Esenbeckia febrifuga showed antiplasmodial activity.[961

Furthermore, few plant species such as Xylopia aromatica, Casearia sylvestris, Cupania vernalis and Aspidosperma macrocarpon[971 have shown antiplasmodial activity, while Casearia sylvestris var. lingua showed activity against Trypanosoma cruzi.198 Similarly, lupeols[991 and lapachol derivatives isolated from Cybistax antisyphilitica had shown significant antimalarial activity in vitro and in vivo against Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium berghei, respectively.[1001 Annona crassiflora is used as traditional medicine for the treatment of Chagas' disease,[1011 while Annona muricata,1102'1041 Annona foetida,11051 Annona purpurea11061 are used to treat malaria. In addition, few members of Apocynaceae family[381 contain acetogenins,[107'1091 which exhibit strong in vitro antimalarial activity.[1101 A new clerodane diterpene isolated from Casearia sylvestris var. lingua showed pronounced activity on Trypanosoma cruzi with minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) at 0.59 g/ml[981 [Table 21.

Antibacterial Activity

The crude latex of A. ochroleuca exhibited a potent antibacterial effect against Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi and Bacillus subtilis.[1111 Similarly, Alpha-D-mannosidase and N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase isolated from plant latex show synergistical action and inhibit yeast growth.[1121 Proteins from latex of Calotropis procera (CpLP), Plumeria rubra (PrLP), Carica candamarcensis (P1G10) and Euphorbia tirucalli (EtLP) have shown antifungal activity against phytopathogens.[271 Simialrly, a South African plant; Hyaenanche globosa (Euphorbiaceae) showed poisonous activity due to presence of some toxic compounds.[1131 The ethanolic extract of the fruits of H. globosa (F.E) contain monophene which showed inhibitory and cytotoxic activity in HeLa cells' and other cancer cell lines.[1141 Similarly, Tutin and hyenanchin isolated from H. globosa have shown significant (P<0.01) inhibition on cell viability/proliferation.[1131 Latex of Jatropha curcas is used externally to treat infection, piles and sores among the domestic livestock. The leaves of J. curcas contain apigenin, vitexin and isovitexin, which along with other factors show antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.[31 Similarly, latex of Argemone ochroleuca Sweet has shown antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Enterobacter aerogenes, Micrococcus luteus, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.[1111 Latex from Hancornia speciosa Gomes (Apocynaceae) has shown activity against Klebsiella, Pantoea, Enterobacter and Burkholderia,1115

while Hevea bransilensis latex shows antifungal activity against Trichosprum cutaneum and Cryptococcus neoformans11161 [Table 1]. It also exhibits a good activity against multiple drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus (NCTC 11994) and Salmonella typhimurium (ATCC 1255) and Candida albicans (ATCC 10231).[1171 Similarly, antibacterial activity is reported in C. procera by Jain et al.[1181

Anthelminthic Activity

Latex from papaya and pineapple have shown anthelminthic activity in vitro against second juvenile stage of parasitic nematode, i.e., Meloidogyne and Globodera rostochiensis.1119 Anthelmintic activity of papaya latex work against patent Heligmosomoides polygyrus infections in mice.[1201 The papaya latex showed an antiparasitic efficacy against intestinal nematodes of mammalian hosts. It was also found effective against natural infection of Ascaris suum in infected pigs.[1211 Its seven days treatment cut down worm count more than 80%. Similarly, latex of Ficus carica and Papaya carica kill Ascaris in vivo.1122 Further, Chandrashekhar, et al.[1231 reported anthelmintic activity in crude extracts of Ficus racemosa, which is due to presence of proteolytic fraction called ficin. Similarly, latex of Ficus insipida (Willd.) and Ficus carica (L.) have shown anthelmintic activity in mice naturally infected with Syphacia obvelata, Aspiculuris tetraptera and Vampirolepis nana,112441 while latex from Ficus glabrata is traditionaly used kill intestinal helminths[1251 [Table 11.

Antioxidant Activity

Aloe harlana Reynolds contains anthrone (aloin) and chromone (7-O-methylaloeresin A) [Figure], which has shown antioxidant activity.[1171 Similarly, Jatropha curcas and Ficus carica Linn. (Moraceae) shows anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging activity.[231 These plants contain polyphenolic contents mainly flavonoids, flavonols and proanthocyanidin, which work as strong anti-oxidant agents.[1261 J. curcas latex also contains Flavan-3-ols derivatives as major phenolic compounds that exhibit strong antioxidant activity[121 [Table 2]. Similarly, methanolic extract of Calotropis procera Latex provides protection against inflammation and oxidative stress in Freund's complete adjuvant-induced monoarthritis in rats.[1271 Similarly, Tocotrienols, the unsaturated forms of vitamin E found in tobacco leaves function as efficient antioxidants and protect membrane lipids from peroxidation.[1281 Synadenium grantii shows antioxidant/oxidative properties and inhibit production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and show strong ferric ion reducing power (FRAP), and lipid peroxidation thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS) activity.[1291

Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic Activities

Latex from Hancornia speciosa demonstrates significant anti-inflammatory activity through the inhibition of nitric

oxide, PGE2 and cytokine production.11301 It is also used extensively to treat acne, warts, diseases related to bursitis and inflammation. The latex also inhibited inflammation induced by subcutaneous carrageenan injection, cell migration, exudate volume, protein extravasation, increased levels of inflammatory mediators (nitric oxide, prostaglandin E2, TNF-a, and IL-6) produced in the pouch, and increased expression of the enzymes nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase 2.[1301 Besides this, plants possess non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents which are highly useful for treatment of infections.[1311 Similarly, Calotropis procera (family: Apocynaceae) possesses potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.[1271 The protein fraction of latex of Calotropis procera shows relieve from inflammation and pain felt by arthritic patient.[1271 It shows similar properties when used in animal models.[1321 Similarly, Himatanthus drasticus (Apocynaceae) latex contain lupeon a pentacyclic triperpene that show anti-inflammatory properties induce synthesis of few bioactive constituents such as pentacyclic triterpene lupeol and lupeol acetate (LA) shows pro-inflammatory cytokines.[1331 Lupeol is a multitarget agent with immense anti-inflammatory potential and target key molecular pathways which involve nuclear factor kappa B (NFkB), cFLIP, Fas, Kras, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and Wnt/|3-catenin in a variety of cells.[1341 It also functions as a therapeutic and chemopreventive agent for treatment of inflammation and cancer.[1351 Besides this, few synthetic products such as phenylbutazone are useful as analgesics. Tramadol is used for the treatment of rheumatic pain[1341 while lactucin work as a stronger analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent.[1361 It is a pain relieving medicine of abdominal colic, painful menstruation, or muscle spasms. Similarly, seeds of Lactuca virosa enhance the flow of breast milk in nursing mothers due to presence of lactucopicrin and the lactucin. It is also used as cough suppressant as a topical antiseptic and as an anti-malarial.[1371 Similarly, latex from Euphorbia latea and Ficus carica is claimed to be used for the treatment of of inflammation[1381 [Table 11.

Anti-arthritis, Laxative and Vasodilatory Activity

Few plant species such as Aloe vera is used to treat arthritis. Regular use of its crude juice and gel is very efficient for relieving arthritic pain. It helps to eliminate pain and provides easy mobility. It contains sterols such as lupeol and campesterol. If Aloe vera gel is mixed with crushed aspirin and is applied topically for instant relief from pain in joints. If it is applied as a poultice with a warm, moist wash cloth or gauze pad provides instant relief and reduces swelling. Latex from the Aloe vera plant contains aloin that conatins laxative properties. Its homemade blended or juicey preparation is used as laxative tonic. Latex of C. procera shows antiarthritic activity and cut down arthritic pain in joints.[1271 Calatropis gigantean also cause vasodilatory effect in Green frog Rana hexadactyla.[1391 Similaly, Ligustrum delavayanumll4S1 and Viscum album[1411 shows vasodilator activity.[1421

Clinical and Pathological Effects of Plant Latex

Plant latex generates pathological effects in animals such as mild ascites, pulmonary edema, mild hemorrhage in the liver, hydropericardium, flaccid heart, ulcers on the abomasum and juxtamedullary cortex of kidneys. It also shows cardiotoxic and hepatotoxic activity.[1431 C. procera latex exposure generates tachycardia and transitory cardiac arrhythmias in sheep.[1431 It contains many proteins, which are highly basic in nature that exhibit strong proteolytic, anticoagulant, fibrinogenolytic activity.[1421 Latex from C. procera cause pathological changes in pregnant females and increase the level of aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and creatinine, globulin, urea and progesterone, while in non-pregnant females it show vaginitis, anorexia and loss of condition.[1441 Similarly, Lactuca virosa is a wild lettuce plant; it contains lactucopicrin and lactucin. Lactucopicrin inhibits cholinesterase and produces a relaxing sedative effect in man.[1371 It is also used to remove anxiety and insomnia.[1361 Similarly, natural rubber latex (NRL) (Hevea brasiliensis (Hev-b) induce autism.[1451 Lupeol acetate also significantly inhibits carrageenan dextran-induced paw oedemas, as well as affect the neutrophil migration to the peritoneal cavity,[1341 while Synadenium grantii latex is poisonous and causes erythroderma in patients.[1291 Similary, latex from Euphorbia lactea contain tirucallol, a tetracyclic triterpene, which suppress ear edema in mouse and also effect influx of polymorphonuclear cells in response to topical application of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-acetate (TPA) in the mouse ear.[111 Carica papaya latex contains lipase[1461 that lipolytic activities while papain like protease from the same plnat exhibit proteolytic activity.[1471


Plan latex is a good source of various secondary metabolites, which show growth inhibitory effects in bacteria fungi, viruses, tumours and cancer cell line. It shows toxicity to insects, act as growth and reproductive cycle inhibitor. It also shows cytotoxic and anticancer activity and is widely used as laxative, anti-arthritic and as conditioning agents for cosmetic purposes. It contains many hydrocarbons that help to produce biodiesel. It is a rich source of so many bioactive compounds such as flavonoides, terpinoides and saponins, glycosides, chitins and proteases and proteinases that provides major defence against herbivore insects. India has a large tribal population, which is regularly using plant latex for the treatment of various diseases. Though so many utilities of plant latex are known but its overall ethnobotanical uses are still unknown that might be more helpful for development of novel antibiotics from plant latex. However, before its clinical, medicinal and industrial uses its phytochemical analysis is highly needful. Most of these properties are need to be explored. No doubt, plant latex is an industrially important

raw material that can be made easily availablefor production of valued products such as much cheaper antibiotics for common microbial infections. In addition, there is a possibility to generate many more commercialized products by using plant latex especially fibres, glues, adhesives, paints, flourings, films, contraceptives, finger stalls, teats and immunediagnsotic materials. More specifically, use of latex and its products are environmentally much safer and these are easily recyclable or biodegradable in nature.


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How to cite this article: Upadhyay RK. Plant latex: A natural source of pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Int J Green Pharm 2011;5:169-80.

Source of Support: Nil, Conflict of Interest: None declared.

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