Vasiliki D. Papakonstantinou
Ginkgolides are mainly extracted from the leaves of Ginkgo biloba tree and exhibit, among other properties, an intense anti-inflammatory role. This characteristic is attributed to their anti-PAF (Platelet Activating Factor) properties as ginkgolides and especially BN 52021, are the most potent specific PAF inhibitors. PAF is a lipid mediator, present during the inflammatory processes and implicated that way in numerous pathophysiological situations. PAF is synthesized by a wide variety of organisms and cells exerting its biological functions by binding to its specific receptor. There is a wide range of PAF inhibitors that act variously. BN 52021 is a natural specific PAF inhibitor which acts competitively locking PAF receptor in its inactive state. Atherosclerosis and other pathological complications have as common a chronic or an acute inflammatory response and therefore the implication of PAF. Different extracts of Ginkgo biloba have been used either in animal models or in clinical trials giving promising results in the aforementioned situations, as a result of its antioxidant properties. As a conclusion, in this article it is proposed for the first time that the beneficial effects of Ginkgo biloba extracts may be mainly exerted by its anti-PAF properties. This suggestion should be further studied in order to shed light on the anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical use of Ginkgo biloba.