The aim of this literature review is to investigate if volatile diterpenoids, a small group of
compounds, found in some essential oils, have any of the various biological activities which are generally
attributed to essential oils. The importance to emphasize is the fact, that in nature, the number of
volatile and bio-active diterpenoids is very small. Different plant families have been investigated and
their essential oils have been distilled, compounds were isolated and then analyzed. Almost all isolated
diterpenoids showed to have cytotoxic, antioxidant or antimicrobial activities alone or more often in
synergism with other essential oil compounds. For example labdane-type and abietane-type diterpenes
have shown cytotoxicity against tumor cells and abietane-like compounds play an important role as antioxidants. For each
isolated class of diterpenoids one or more biological activities can be observed.
Keywords: Biological properties, biosynthesis, essential oils, volatile diterpenoids.
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