Chronic inflammation has become an integral part of man’s suffering. Although the etiology
of inflammatory diseases is still unclear, evidence shows that it is multifactorial involving several proinflammatory
cytokines, chemokines, free radicals, and other regulators of the immune system. Environmental,
genetic and epigenetic factors have also been shown to play key roles in the pathogenesis
of inflammatory diseases. Conventional drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
(NSAIDs), disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), glucocorticoids and biological agents
are used to manage the symptoms but are unable to deal with the underlying causes. Also, they have many serious adverse
reactions. To deal with this, many alternatives have been suggested and among them, plant-based secondary metabolites
(SM) stands out. The aim of this review therefore, is to make an inventory of secondary metabolites of plants from Africa
and China that are used to treat inflammatory diseases focusing on rheumatoid arthritis (RA), asthma and systemic lupus
erythematosus (SLE). Also, the possible mechanisms of these SM will be highlighted. Finally, active compounds isolated
from these plants that regulate specific inflammatory mediators will be summarized.
Keywords: Asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, alkaloids, flavonoids, terpenes, traditional medicine.
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