Many bioactive compounds with known effects on human physiology and disease have been identified through studies of plants used in traditional medicine. Some of these substances occur also in common food plants, and hence could play a significant role in relation to human health. Food plants of the Apiaceae plant family such as carrots, celery and parsley, contain a group of bioactive aliphatic C17-polyacetylenes. These polyacetylenes have shown to be highly toxic towards fungi, bacteria, and mammalian cells, and to display neurotoxic, anti-inflammatory and anti-platelet-aggregatory effects and to be responsible for allergic skin reactions. The effect of these polyacetylenes towards human cancer cells, their human bioavailability and their ability to reduce tumour formation in a mammalian in vivo model indicates that they may also provide benefits for health. The present state of knowledge on the occurrence of polyacetylenes in Apiaceae food plants, their biochemistry and bioactivity is presented in this review as well as relatively new methods for the isolation and quantification of these compounds from plants, plant products and biological fluids. © 2006.
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