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Pure Appl. Chem., 2001, Vol. 73, No. 3, pp. 583-588

Quantitative chemobiology

Otto R. Gottlieb1*, Maria Renata de M. B. Borin1 and Nei Regis S. de Brito2

1 Departamento de Fisiologia e Farmacodinâmica, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, FIOCRUZ, 21045-900, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
2 Departamento de Produtos Naturais e Alimentos, Faculdade de Farmácia, UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Abstract: One of the mysteries of man's contact with nature concerns the question why shamanism and science so often lead to consistent results in the search for useful natural products. To find clues toward an answer via a coherent chemobiological language, structural and functional information is taken into account. The functional information, given by ethnobotanical codes based on traditional knowledge (via number of useful dicotyledon species), is confronted with the structural information, given by metabolic codes based on micromolecular diversification (via number of occurrences in dicotyledons). The challenge to integrate these databases implies in the development of qualitative (via dahlgrenograms) and quantitative (via Sporne indices) models into an evolutionary framework. The follow-up of ethnobotanical qualifications reveals systematic and evolutionary patterns, susceptible to juxtaposition into a phytochemical background based on gallates (GAL) and caffeates (CAF), regulators of intermediate metabolism. Comparison of the two models of information suggests that the "spectral" features of the GAL and CAF-models are coincident with the ethnobotany-guided food- and medicine-plants respectively. Hence, the complementary nature of food and medicine species can be rationalized by oscillations between GAL/CAF. Analyses of these indicators of toxicity would allow advances in the understanding of mechanisms regulating the production of bioactive products.