Special Issue "Alkaloids—Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Medicinal Uses"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2019).
Interests: phytochemistry, molecular pharmacology of medicinal and toxic plants, alkaloids, evolution, chemical ecology
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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
Manuscript Submission Information
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- Alkaloids: phytochemistry & analytics
- molecular modes of action
- applications in medicine
- evolution of alkaloids