Betulin and betulinic acid: triterpenoids derivatives with a powerful biological potential
Betulin, a pentacyclic triterpene and a plant pentacyclic triterpene metabolite, can be found in large quantities in the outer bark of the birches (Betula, Betulaceae). Betulinic acid, obtained by betulin oxidation, is also abundantly present in nature. Both compounds show a wide spectrum of biological and pharmacological properties, such as anti-HIV, anti-inflammatory, and, considered the most important, anti-cancer. The aim of this review is to comprehensively summarise the potential of betulin and betulinic acid, both in vitro and in vivo.