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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 576479, 12 pages
Review Article

Potential Effects of Medicinal Plants and Secondary Metabolites on Acute Lung Injury

1Departamento de Clínica Médica, Laboratório de ImunoFarmacologia Experimental, Instituto de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro, Rua Manoel Carlos 162, 38025-380 Uberaba, MG, Brazil
2Instituto de Ciências Biológicas e Naturais, Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro (UFTM), Uberaba, MG, Brazil

Received 3 May 2013; Revised 16 August 2013; Accepted 23 August 2013

Academic Editor: Edineia Lemos de Andrade

Copyright © 2013 Daniely Cornélio Favarin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Acute lung injury (ALI) is a life-threatening syndrome that causes high morbidity and mortality worldwide. ALI is characterized by increased permeability of the alveolar-capillary membrane, edema, uncontrolled neutrophils migration to the lung, and diffuse alveolar damage, leading to acute hypoxemic respiratory failure. Although corticosteroids remain the mainstay of ALI treatment, they cause significant side effects. Agents of natural origin, such as medicinal plants and their secondary metabolites, mainly those with very few side effects, could be excellent alternatives for ALI treatment. Several studies, including our own, have demonstrated that plant extracts and/or secondary metabolites isolated from them reduce most ALI phenotypes in experimental animal models, including neutrophil recruitment to the lung, the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, edema, and vascular permeability. In this review, we summarized these studies and described the anti-inflammatory activity of various plant extracts, such as Ginkgo biloba and Punica granatum, and such secondary metabolites as epigallocatechin-3-gallate and ellagic acid. In addition, we highlight the medical potential of these extracts and plant-derived compounds for treating of ALI.