Acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity of some Amaryllidaceae alkaloids and Narcissus extracts

Life Sci. 2002 Oct 11;71(21):2521-9. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(02)02034-9.


Amaryllidaceous plants produce pharmacologically active alkaloids, galanthamine being the most interesting for its use in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease as a cholinesterase inhibitor. The aim of this work was to test 23 pure Amaryllidaceae alkaloids and 26 extracts from different species of the genus Narcissus for their acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity using galanthamine as a reference. Only seven alkaloids, belonging to the galanthamine and lycorine skeleton types, exhibited such an effect, sanguinine being the most active, even more than galanthamine. All the extracts with the highest acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity contained galanthamine except that of N. assoanus, a lycorine type alkaloid-bearing species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / analysis
  • Alkaloids / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Electrophorus / metabolism
  • Galantamine / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*


  • Alkaloids
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Galantamine