Diabetes mellitus (DM) is considered one of the most common metabolic disorders with an elevated morbidity and mortality rate. It is characterised by a deficiency in insulin secretion or degradation of secreted insulin. Many internal and external factors, such as oxidative stress, obesity and sedentary lifestyle, among others, have been suggested as the major causes of these cell alterations. Diabetes I and II are the most common types of diabetes. Treatment of type I requires insulin injection, while type II can be managed using different synthetic antidiabetic agents. However, their effectiveness is limited as a result of low bioavailability, high cost of drug production, and unfavourable side effects. There is a great need to develop alternative and more active antidiabetic drugs from natural sources. Different forms of natural products have been used since time immemorial as a source of medicine for the purpose of curing numerous human diseases, including diabetes. Secondary metabolites such as polyphenols, flavonoids, terpenoids, alkaloids and several other constituents have direct and indirect roles in controlling such diseases; among them, abietane diterpenes have been reported to display a broad spectrum of promising biological activities including diabetes. This review aimed to summarize existing data from SciFinder (2005-2018) on the biological importance of abietane diterpenes in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes and closely related diseases.
Keywords: Diabetes mellitus, oxidative stress, secondary metabolites, polyphenols, terpenoids, alkaloids.