Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine / 2009 / Article

Review | Open Access

Volume 6 |Article ID 431301 | 11 pages | https://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nem139

Fetal Hemoglobin Inducers from the Natural World: A Novel Approach for Identification of Drugs for the Treatment of β-Thalassemia and Sickle-Cell Anemia

Received14 Jun 2007
Accepted23 Aug 2007


The objective of this review is to present examples of lead compounds identified from biological material (fungi, plant extracts and agro-industry material) and of possible interest in the field of a pharmacological approach to the therapy of β-thalassemia using molecules able to stimulate production of fetal hemoglobin (HbF) in adults. Concerning the employment of HbF inducers as potential drugs for pharmacological treatment of β-thalassemia, the following conclusions can be reached: (i) this therapeutic approach is reasonable, on the basis of the clinical parameters exhibited by hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin patients, (ii) clinical trials (even if still limited) employing HbF inducers were effective in ameliorating the symptoms of β-thalassemia patients, (iii) good correlation of in vivo and in vitro results of HbF synthesis and γ-globin mRNA accumulation indicates that in vitro testing might be predictive of in vivo responses and (iv) combined use of different inducers might be useful to maximize HbF, both in vitro and in vivo. In this review, we present three examples of HbF inducers from the natural world: (i) angelicin and linear psoralens, contained in plant extracts from Angelica arcangelica and Aegle marmelos, (ii) resveratrol, a polyphenol found in grapes and several plant extracts and (iii) rapamycin, isolated from Streptomyces hygroscopicus.

Copyright © 2009 Nicoletta Bianchi 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.

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