Mechanism of Action of Antieukaryotic and Antiviral Compounds

Volume 5 / 2 of the series Antibiotics pp 414-438

The Vinca Alkaloids

  • W. A. Creasey

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The vinca alkaloids are antineoplastic indole derivatives (Fig. 1) that are isolated from the leaves of the periwinkle plant, Vinca rosea L., or more correctly, Catharanthus roseus G. Don. This plant is of Madagascan origin, although its distribution is now pantropical (Stearn, 1975). Even in varieties selected for the highest alkaloid content, the concentrations of these antitumor agents are very low, as much as 1 kg of dried leaves being needed to obtain 3 mg of vincristine, for example.