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Alkaloids from Lasianthera africana and Gongronema latifolium found to prevent neurodegeneration


In this study, researchers at the Federal University of Technology Akure in Nigeria investigated the in vitro modulatory effect of alkaloids obtained from two commonly consumed vegetables in southern Nigeria. Their findings were published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.

  • Plants produce alkaloids as part of their defense mechanism against herbivores.
  • Alkaloids are known to have pharmacological properties that benefit human health.
  • For their experiment, the researchers extracted alkaloids from Lasianthera africana, locally known as editan, and Gongronema latifolium, also known as utazi, and explored their ability to regulate the activities of enzymes involved in neurodegeneration.
  • Specifically, they examined how the alkaloids affected the activity of cholinesterases (e.g., acetylcholinesterase [AChE] and butyrylcholinesterase [BChE]) and the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) in vitro.
  • The researchers also looked at the alkaloids’ ability to chelate Fe2+ and scavenge free radicals.
  • An alkaloid profile was developed using gas chromatography coupled with flame ionization detector (GC-FID).
  • The researchers reported that the alkaloids inhibited AChE, BChE and MAO in a concentration-dependent manner.
  • In particular, the alkaloid from G. latifolium showed a higher inhibitory activity for all three enzymes than the alkaloid from L. africana.
  • Meanwhile, GC-FID analysis revealed an abundance of choline in both extracts.

Because of the ability of G. latifolium and L. africana extracts to inhibit enzymes implicated in neurodegeneration, the researchers believe these African vegetables would make great dietary supplements for the management of neurodegenerative diseases.

Journal Reference:

Nwanna EE, Adebayo AA, Oboh G, Ogunsuyi OB, Ademosun AO. MODULATORY EFFECTS OF ALKALOID EXTRACT FROM GONGRONEMA LATIFOLIUM (UTAZI) AND LASIANTHERA AFRICANA (EDITAN) ON ACTIVITIES OF ENZYMES RELEVANT TO NEURODEGENERATION. Journal of Dietary Supplements. 16 February 2018;16(1):27–39. DOI: 10.1080/19390211.2018.1426075

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