Anti-cancer and anti-trypanosomal properties of alkaloids from the root bark of Zanthoxylum leprieurii Guill and Perr

Fabian I. Eze*, Xavier Siwe-Noundou, Michelle Isaacs, Srinivas Patnala, Patience O. Osadebe, Rui W.M. Krause

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To isolate the anti-cancer and anti-trypanosomal principles of Zanthoxylum leprieurii, a medicinally versatile wild tropical plant used for managing tumours, African trypanosomiasis, and inflammation in southeastern Nigeria. Methods: The pure compounds were isolated using chromatographic methods. The structural elucidation of the pure compounds was based on their NMR (1D and 2D) and mass spectral data as well as chemical test results. Structure-activity relationships were based on the structural differences among the compounds. The cytotoxicity of the extracts and compounds (1, 2, 3, and 4) was evaluated in HeLa (human cervix adenocarcinoma) cell line while the trypanocidal activities were evaluated on Trypanosoma brucei brucei. Results: Two acridone alkaloids, 1-hydroxy-3-methoxy-10-methylacridin-9 (10H)-one, named fabiocinine (1), and 1-hydroxy-2,3-dimethoxy-10-methylacridin-9 (10H)-one (arborinine, 2), together with a furoquinoline alkaloid, skimmianine (3), and a chelerythrine derivative, 6-acetonyl-5,6-dihydrochelerythrine (4) were isolated from the root bark of Zanthoxylum leprieurii. Skimmianine (3) exhibited cytotoxicity and anti-trypanosomal IC50 of 12.8 and 13.2 µg/mL respectively (p < 0.05). Compound (1) and arborinine (2) were selectively cytotoxic to HeLa cells with cytotoxicity IC50 of 28.49 and 62.71 µg/mL, respectively, while (4) did not show significant activity (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Zanthoxylum leprieurii root bark contains cytotoxic and trypanocidal compounds, and is thus a potential source of anti-cancer and anti-trypanosomal leads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2377-2383
Number of pages7
JournalTropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Alkaloids
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-trypanosomal
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Root bark
  • Zanthoxylum leprieuri


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