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J Nat Prod. 2002 Oct;65(10):1381-6.

Antiplasmodial activity of alkaloids from various strychnos species.

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University of Liège, Natural and Synthetic Drugs Research Center, Laboratory of Pharmacognosy, Avenue de l'Hôpital 1, B36, B-4000 Liège, Belgium.


The in vitro antiplasmodial activities of 69 alkaloids from various Strychnos species were evaluated against chloroquine-resistant and chloroquine-sensitive lines of Plasmodium falciparum. The compounds, comprising mainly indolomonoterpenoid alkaloids, exhibited a wide range of biological potencies in the antiplasmodial assays. The most active alkaloids were also tested for cytotoxicity against HCT-116 colon cancer cells to determine their antiplasmodial selectivity. As a result of these studies, structure-activity relationships for these alkaloids have begun to emerge. Alkaloids presenting four types of bisindole skeleton exhibited potent and selective activities against Plasmodium. They were sungucine-type (IC(50) values ranging from 80 nM to 10 microM), longicaudatine-type (IC(50) values ranging from 0.5 to 10 microM), matopensine-type (IC(50) values ranging from 150 nM to 10 microM), and usambarine-type alkaloids. Within the last structural type, isostrychnopentamine (49) and ochrolifuanine A (46) were found to be active against chloroquine-sensitive and -resistant strains (IC(50) values of 100-150 and 100-500 nM, respectively), and dihydrousambarensine (51) exhibited a 30-fold higher activity against the chloroquine-resistant strain (IC(50) = 32 nM) than against the chloroquine-sensitive one.

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