|Preferred IUPAC name
Betulinol, betuline, betulol, betulinic alcohol, trochol
3D model (JSmol)
|Molar mass||442.728 g·mol−1|
|Appearance||solid with needle-like crystals|
|Melting point||256 to 257 °C (493 to 495 °F; 529 to 530 K)|
|Solubility||slightly soluble in ethanol and benzene; soluble in diethyl ether, ethyl acetate and ligroin|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
|what is ?)(|
Betulin is an abundant, naturally occurring triterpene. It is commonly isolated from the bark of birch trees. It forms up to 30% of the dry weight of silver birch bark. It is also found in birch sap. Inonotus obliquus  and red alder also contain betulin.
The compound in the bark gives the tree its white color which appears to protect the tree from mid-winter overheating by the sun. As a result, birches are some of the northernmost occurring deciduous trees. It can be converted to betulinic acid (the alcohol group replaced by a carboxylic acid group), which is biologically more active than betulin itself.
Chemically, betulin is a triterpenoid of lupane structure. It has a pentacyclic ring structure, and hydroxyl groups in positions C3 and C28.
In vitro studies have shown that betulin was effective against a variety of tumors. Betulin causes some types of tumor cells to start a process of self-destruction called apoptosis, and can slow the growth of several types of tumor cells.
Another study has shown that betulin inhibited the maturation of sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBPs). Inhibition of SREBP by betulin decreased the biosynthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids. In vivo, betulin ameliorated diet-induced obesity, decreased the lipid contents in serum and tissues, and increased insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, betulin reduced the size and improved the stability of atherosclerotic plaques.
Native Americans used red alder bark to treat poison oak, insect bites, and skin irritations. Blackfoot Indians used an infusion made from the bark of red alder to treat lymphatic diseases and tuberculosis.
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- Tang, Jing-Jie; Li, Jia-Gui; Qi, Wei; Qiu, Wen-Wei; Li, Pei-Shan; Li, Bo-Liang; Song, Bao-Liang (2011). "Inhibition of SREBP by a Small Molecule, Betulin, Improves Hyperlipidemia and Insulin Resistance and Reduces Atherosclerotic Plaques". Cell Metabolism. 13 (1): 44–56. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2010.12.004. PMID 21195348.