Isoquinoline alkaloids may have a wide range of pharmacological activities. Some of them have acetylcholinesterase activity inhibition. Nowadays, neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease have become a serious public health problem. Searching for new effective compounds with inhibited acetylcholinesterase activity is one of the most significant challenges of modern scientific research. The aim of this study was the in vitro investigation of acetylcholinesterase activity inhibition of extracts obtained from Sanguinaria canadensis
collected before, during and after flowering. The acetylcholinesterase activity inhibition of these extracts has not been previously tested. The aim was also to quantify selected alkaloids in the investigated extracts by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The analyses of alkaloid content were performed using HPLC in reversed phase (RP) mode using Polar RP column and mobile phase containing acetonitrile, water and ionic liquid (IL). The acetylcholinesterase activity inhibition of the tested plant extracts and respective alkaloid standards were examined using high performance liquid chromatography with diode-array detector (HPLC-DAD) for the quantification of 5-thio-2-nitro-benzoic acid, which is the product of the reaction between the thiocholine (product of the hydrolysis of acetylthiocholine reaction) with Ellman reagent. The application of the HPLC method allowed for elimination of absorption of interfering components, for example, alkaloids such as sanguinarine and berberine. It is revealed that the HPLC method can be successfully used for the evaluation of the acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity in samples such as plant extracts, especially those containing colored components adsorbing at wavelength in the range 405–412 nm. The acetylcholinesterase inhibition activity synergy of pairs of alkaloid standards and mixture of all investigated alkaloids was also determined. Most investigated alkaloids and all Sanguinaria canadensis
extracts exhibited very high acetylcholinesterase activity inhibition. IC50
values obtained for alkaloid standards were from 0.36 for berberine to 23.13 µg/mL for protopine and from 61.24 to 89.14 µg/mL for Sanguinaria canadensis
extracts. Our investigations demonstrated that these plant extracts can be recommended for further in vivo experiments to confirm their acetylcholinesterase activity inhibition.
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