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Alkaloids—Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Medicinal Uses

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Pharmacology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2019) | Viewed by 7962

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology, Heidelberg University, Im Neuenheimer Feld 329, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Interests: phytochemistry; molecular pharmacology of medicinal and toxic plants; alkaloids; evolution; chemical ecology; ornithology; phylogeny and evolution
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Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Alkaloids are secondary metabolites, which carry one or several nitrogen atoms, mostly in their ring structures. More than 30000 different alkaloid structures have been found in Nature. Most of them derive from amino acid precursors, such as phenylalanine, tyrosine, tryptophan, lysine, arginine, and ornithine.

Alkaloids have evolved in nature as defence substances against herbivores, and to a lesser degree against microbes or competing plants. As a consequence, most alkaloids show a pronounced toxicity. Many alkaloids interact with elements of neuronal signal transduction, such as ion channels; ion pumps; neurotransmitter receptors; enzymes, which degrade neurotransmitters; and transporters. Cytotoxic alkaloids often interfere with DNA (via alkylation or intercalation) and microtubules and induce apoptosis.

As a consequence, plants with alkaloids are either known as toxic plants or as medicinal plants, because they can interfere with molecular targets that are relevant in health conditions. For example, morphine is still used as an analgetic drug; vinblastine, paclitaxel, and camptothecin as antitumor drugs; and galantamine and physostigmine as inhibitors of acetylcholine esterase.

The use of alkaloids in medicine (in the treatment of cancer, parasitic diseases, pathogenic bacteria, and neuronal disorders) and even in agriculture is an exciting field, because many alkaloids have not yet been discovered, and in most cases their exact mode of action has not been elucidated. New tools, such as Next Generation Sequencing, RNASeq, and high-resolution microscopy, offer the possibility to understand the activity of alkaloids at the DNA level.

This Special Issue offers a platform for all scientists working on alkaloids and hopefully will become an important source of new information.

Prof. Dr. Michael Wink
Guest Editor

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  • Alkaloids: phytochemistry & analytics
  • molecular modes of action
  • applications in medicine
  • evolution of alkaloids

Published Papers (1 paper)

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14 pages, 5477 KiB  
Protective Effect of Koumine, an Alkaloid from Gelsemium Sempervirens, on Injury Induced by H2O2 in IPEC-J2 Cells
by Zhihang Yuan, Zengenni Liang, Jine Yi, Xiaojun Chen, Rongfang Li, Yong Wu, Jing Wu and Zhiliang Sun
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(3), 754; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20030754 - 11 Feb 2019
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 3577
Medicinal herbal plants have been commonly used for intervention in different diseases and improvement of health worldwide. Koumine, an alkaloid monomer found abundantly in Gelsemium plants, can be effectively used as an antioxidant. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential [...] Read more.
Medicinal herbal plants have been commonly used for intervention in different diseases and improvement of health worldwide. Koumine, an alkaloid monomer found abundantly in Gelsemium plants, can be effectively used as an antioxidant. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential protective effect of koumine against hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis in porcine intestinal epithelial cell line (IPEC-J2 cells). MTT assays showed that koumine significantly increased cell viability in H2O2-mediated IPEC-J2 cells. Preincubation with koumine ameliorated H2O2-medicated apoptosis by decreasing reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and efficiently suppressed the lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release and malondialdehyde (MDA) production. Moreover, a loss of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione (GSH) activities was restored to normal level in H2O2-induced IPEC-J2 cells upon koumine exposure. Furthermore, pretreatment with koumine suppressed H2O2-mediated loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, caspase-9 and caspase-3 activation, decrease of Bcl-2 expression and elevation of Bax expressions. Collectively, the results of this study indicated that koumine possesses the cytoprotective effects in IPEC-J2 cells during exposure to H2O2 by suppressing production of ROS, inhibiting the caspase-3 activity and influencing the expression of Bax and Bcl-2. Koumine could potentially serve as a protective effect against H2O2-induced apoptosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Alkaloids—Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Medicinal Uses)
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