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J Trop Med Hyg. 1990 Jun;93(3):153-9.

A comparison of the antimalarial activity of the cinchona alkaloids against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro.

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Faculty of Medicine, University of Papua New Guinea, Boroko, NCD.


The effects of four major cinchona alkaloids: (-) quinine, (+) quinidine, (-)cinchonidine, and (+)cinchonine against Plasmodium falciparum FCQ-27/PNG were studied. The alkaloids were tested in vitro as either single alkaloids, racemic mixtures of stereoisomers, or as an equimolar combination of all four alkaloids. Results indicate (+)quinidine to be most effective and both (+)stereoisomers were more potent than the (-)stereoisomers. Inhibitory concentrations 50% (Ki) of racemic mixtures of stereoisomers were similar to those of the (+)stereoisomers alone. The Ki of four alkaloids in equimolar combination were similar to that of the (-) cinchonidine/(+)cinchonine racemic mixture. A total alkaloidal extract of Cinchona sp. was tested and compared with the pure alkaloids. HPLC analysis indicated that (+)cinchonine, (-)cinchonidine and (-)quinine were present in a ratio of approximately 1:1:2, respectively. The total alkaloid extract, with (-)stereoisomers predominating, was less effective than the four alkaloids in combination. The nature of the interaction between stereoisomers was investigated and appears to be one of addition.

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