Plants of the genus Cordia (Boraginaceae family) are widely distributed in the tropical regions of America, Africa, and Asia. They are extensively used in folk medicine due to their rich medicinal properties. This review presents a comprehensive analysis of the isolation, structure, biogenesis, and biological properties of quinones from Cordia species reported from 1972 to 2023. Meroterpenoids were identified as the major quinones in most Cordia species and are reported as a chemotaxonomic markers of the Cordia. In addition to this property, quinones are reported to display a wider and broader spectrum of activities, are efficient scaffold in biological activity, compared to other classes of compounds reported in Cordia, hence our focus on the study of quinones reported from Cordia species. About 70 types of quinones have been isolated, while others have been identified by phytochemical screening or gas chromatography. Although the biosynthesis of quinones from Cordia species is not yet fully understood, previous reports suggest that they may be derived from geranyl pyrophosphate and an aromatic precursor unit, followed by oxidative cyclization of the allylic methyl group. Studies have demonstrated that quinones from this genus exhibit antifungal, larvicidal, antileishmanial, anti-inflammatory, antibiofilm, antimycobacterial, antioxidant, antimalarial, neuroinhibitory, and hemolytic activities. In addition, they have been shown to exhibit remarkable cytotoxic effects against several cancer cell lines which is likely related to their ability to inhibit electron transport as well as oxidative phosphorylation, and generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). Their biological activities indicate potential utility in the development of new drugs, especially as active components in drug-carrier systems, against a broad spectrum of pathogens and ailments. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
- Pharmacological activities