Iboga alkaloids are a particular class of indolomonoterpenes most often characterized by an isoquinuclidine nucleus. Their first occurrence was detected in the roots of Tabernanthe iboga, a sacred plant to the people of Gabon, which made it cult object. Ibogaine is the main representative of this class of alkaloids and its psychoactive properties are well documented. It has been proposed as a drug cessation treatment and has a wide range of activities in targeting opioids, cocaine, and alcohol. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a background on this molecule and related compounds and to update knowledge on the most recent advances made. Difficulties linked to the status of ibogaine as a drug in several countries have hampered its development, but 18-methoxycoronaridine is currently under evaluation for the same purposes and for the treatment of leishmaniasis. The chapter is divided into six parts: an introduction aiming at defining what is called an iboga alkaloid, and this is followed by current knowledge on their biosynthesis, which unfortunately remains a "black box" as far as the key construction step is concerned. Many of these alkaloids are still being discovered and the third and fourth parts of the chapter discuss the analytical tools in use for this purpose and give lists of new monomeric and dimeric alkaloids belonging to this class. When necessary, the structures are discussed especially with regard to absolute configuration determinations, which remain a point of weakness in their assignments. Part V gives an account of progress made in the synthesis, partial and total, which the authors believe is key to providing solid solutions to the industrial development of the most promising molecules. The last part of the chapter is devoted to the biological properties of iboga alkaloids, with particular emphasis on ibogaine and 18-methoxycoronaridine.
Keywords: Biosynthesis; Cytotoxicity; Drug cessation treatment; Iboga alkaloids; Leishmaniasis; Structural elucidation; Synthesis.