To give a brief background, chemical investigations of neem were undertaken by Indian pharmaceutical chemists in 1919, whereby they isolated acidic principle in neem oil, which they named as 'margosic acid". However, real chemical research originated in 1942 with isolation of three active constituents, viz, nimbin, nimbidin and nimbinene. In 1963 an Indian scientist extensively examined the chemistry of the active principles of neem. Following the discovery of neem kernel as a locust feeding deterrent, its chemistry has grown considerably. Several compounds have been isolated and characterized. The main feature is that most of them are chemically similar and biogenetically derivable from a tetracyclicterpenes. These are also called liminoids (azadirachtin, meliantrol, salanin etc.) bitter principles and occur in other botanical species as well (Rutaceae and Simaroubaceae). The unraveling of high complex structural features and biogenetic interrelationship represent classic piece of work on natural product chemistry. From the practical side these compounds also exhibit a wide variety of biological activity, for example, pesticides, antifeedants, and cytotoxic properties.
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