Effects of the plant alkaloid sanguinarine on cation transport by human red blood cells and lipid bilayer membranes

J Membr Biol. 1982;64(1-2):23-31. doi: 10.1007/BF01870765.


The plant alkaloid, sanguinarine, inhibits the ouabain-sensitive K -- Na pump and increases the downhill, ouabain-insensitive movements of K and Na in human red cells. These two effects have different temporal and concentration dependencies and are mediated by two different chemical forms of sanguinarine. The oxidized, charged form (5 X 10(-5) M) promptly inhibits the pump but does not affect leakage of K and Na. The reduced, uncharged form of sanguinarine causes lysis of red cells but does not inhibited the pump. Sanguinarine also increases the conductance of bilayers formed from sheep red cell lipids. The effect is produced by the uncharged but not by the charged form of sanguinarine. Bilayer conductance increases as the fourth power of sanguinarine concentration when the compound is present on both sides of the membrane and as the second power of concentration when present on only one side. Conductance also increase e-fold for each 34 mV increase in the potential difference imposed across the membrane. The results suggest that the uncharged forms of sanguinarine product voltage-dependent channels in bilayers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Benzophenanthridines
  • Biological Transport, Active / drug effects
  • Dithiothreitol / pharmacology
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / drug effects
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Isoquinolines
  • Kinetics
  • Lipid Bilayers*
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Potassium / blood*
  • Sheep
  • Sodium / blood*


  • Alkaloids
  • Benzophenanthridines
  • Isoquinolines
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Sodium
  • sanguinarine
  • Potassium
  • Dithiothreitol