Ukrain(TM), a semisynthetic Chelidonium majus alkaloid derivative, acts by inhibition of tubulin polymerization in normal and malignant cell lines

Cancer Lett. 2000 Nov 28;160(2):149-57. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(00)00578-4.


Ukrain(TM) has been described as a semisynthetic Chelidonium majus alkaloid derivative, which exhibits selective toxicity towards malignant cells only. Its mechanism of action has hitherto been uncertain. We found that Ukrain(TM) inhibits tubulin polymerization, leading to impaired microtubule dynamics. This results in activation of the spindle checkpoint and thus a metaphase block. The effects of Ukrain(TM) on the growth, cell cycle progression and morphology of two normal, two transformed and two malignant cell lines did not differ. We could thus find no evidence for the selective cytotoxicity previously reported for Ukrain(TM).

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / pharmacology*
  • Alkaloids / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / toxicity
  • Berberine Alkaloids
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Papaver
  • Phenanthridines
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Tubulin / metabolism
  • Tubulin Modulators*
  • Vero Cells


  • Alkaloids
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Berberine Alkaloids
  • Phenanthridines
  • Tubulin
  • Tubulin Modulators
  • ukrain