Reference Work Entry

Natural Products

pp 1239-1262

Date:

Lycopodium Alkaloids: Pharmacology

  • Elín Soffía OlafsdóttirAffiliated withFaculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland Email author 
  • , Elsa S. HalldorsdottirAffiliated withFaculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland
  • , N. M. PichAffiliated withFaculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland
  • , S. OmarsdottirAffiliated withFaculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland

Abstract

The aim of this work is to review the current knowledge on the lycopodium alkaloids with an emphasis on their pharmacology and potential medical application. Lycopodium alkaloids are produced by club mosses, a vulnerable group of slow-growing lower plants. (−)-Huperzine A (hupA) isolated from Huperzia serrata is known for its potent and reversible acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibiting activity and is used as a drug for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in China. In addition, hupA has been shown to have neuroprotective effects in preclinical studies. It is by far the most intensively studied lycopodium alkaloid and clinical trials do indicate positive effects on AD symptoms with minimum adverse effects. At present, the greatest hurdle for research and application of lycopodium alkaloids is the lack of sustainable methods to supply these compounds. Lycopodium alkaloids which resemble hupA in having favorable bioavailability, pharmacokinetics, and toxicological profiles, in addition to interesting biological activities, are likely to be included in the search for new drug leads in the future, for example, in the development of multi-target and multidrug therapies for AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Keywords

Acetylcholinesterase Alzheimer’s disease biological activity clinical trials club mosses huperzine A Lycopodiaceae lycopodium alkaloids pharmacology