CC BY 4.0 · Pharmaceutical Fronts 2021; 03(04): e139-e163
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1740050
Review Article

Natural Indole Alkaloids from Marine Fungi: Chemical Diversity and Biological Activities

Jiao Li
1   Clinical Medicine Scientific and Technical Innovation Center, Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai, People's Republic of China
Chun-Lin Zhuang
2   Department of Natural Product Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, The Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China
3   Department of Medicinal Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, People's Republic of China
› Author Affiliations
Funding/Acknowledgments This work was funded by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 82022065, 81872791, 82073696, and U20A20136), the Key Project of Science and Technology of Shanghai (Grant No. 21S11900800), the Sanhang Program of Second Military Medical University, and the Key Research and Development Program of Ningxia (Grant No. 2019BFG02017).


The indole scaffold is one of the most important heterocyclic ring systems for pharmaceutical development, and serves as an active moiety in several clinical drugs. Fungi derived from marine origin are more liable to produce novel indole-containing natural products due to their extreme living environments. The indole alkaloids from marine fungi have drawn considerable attention for their unique chemical structures and significant biological activities. This review attempts to provide a summary of the structural diversity of marine fungal indole alkaloids including prenylated indoles, diketopiperazine indoles, bisindoles or trisindoles, quinazoline-containing indoles, indole-diterpenoids, and other indoles, as well as their known biological activities, mainly focusing on cytotoxic, kinase inhibitory, antiinflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-insecticidal, and brine shrimp lethal effects. A total of 306 indole alkaloids from marine fungi have been summarized, covering the references published from 1995 to early 2021, expecting to be beneficial for drug discovery in the future.

Publication History

Received: 31 August 2021

Accepted: 14 October 2021

Article published online:
25 December 2021

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