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Strychnopsis thouarsii Baill.

Protologue
Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Paris 1: 456 (1885).
Family
Menispermaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Strychnopsis thouarsii is endemic to Madagascar where it occurs from Antsiranana in the north to Toamasina in the centre and also in Toliara in the south.
Uses
A decoction of the leaves or root bark is drunk to treat liver problems, enlarged spleen, fever and malaria, sometimes as an adjuvant of chloroquine.
The root yields a bright yellow dye. The branches are used to make temporary huts in the forest.
Properties
From the leaves the bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid fangchinoline, the aporphine alkaloids isocorydine, liriotulipiferine, N-methylindcarpine and predicentrine, and the morphinan alkaloid sinoacutine were isolated. The roots have been shown to contain fangchinoline and the related tetrandrine. The stem bark yielded the morphinan alkaloid tazopsine.
In a test with several bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloids, fangchinoline was the most active compound tested against chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum and against a multidrug-resistant lymphoblastic acute leukaemia cell line. Fangchinoline also has an antagonistic effect on the antinociceptive properties of morphine.
Tazopsine has shown strong activity against Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium yoelli. The semi-synthetic derivative N-cyclopentyl-tazopsine combines strong antiplasmodial activity with a lower toxicity. Because of its specific action against the liver form of the parasite, the risk of resistance developing is considered small.
Botany
Dioecious, small tree up to 15 m tall; bark dark brown and green mottled. Leaves simple and entire; petiole distinctly swollen and bent at apex; blade lanceolate, base cuneate, apex acute, with 3 prominent main veins from the base. Inflorescence an erect raceme, axillary or on older, leafless branches, often many together. Flowers unisexual, 3–4-merous; sepals greenish yellow to pink; petals translucent whitish to pink; male flowers with 5–6 stamens; female flowers with superior ovary, composed of free carpels. Fruit a cluster of 1–4, flattened globose, somewhat fleshy drupes, pale greenish yellow to whitish when ripe, each drupe 1-seeded. Seed horseshoe-shaped.
Strychnopsis comprises a single species.
Ecology
Strychnopsis thouarsii occurs in humid and evergreen forest up to 1150 m altitude. Black lemurs eat the fruits and probably disperse the seeds.
Genetic resources and breeding
Strychnopsis thouarsii is widely used as a traditional medicine against malaria. Continued exploitation, combined with the reduction of the areas under rainforest in Madagascar, may become a threat to its genetic diversity. However, it is not yet included in the IUCN Red List.
Prospects
If semi-synthetic tazopsine derivatives are admitted as antimalaria drugs, the pressure on natural stands of Strychnopsis thouarsii will increase even more. Research aiming at the development of propagation and management techniques is urgently needed.
Major references
• Carraz, M., Jossang, A., Franetich, J.F., Siau, A., Ciceron, L., Hannoun, L., Sauerwein, R., Frappier, F., Rasonaivo, P., Snounou, G. & Mazier, D., 2006. A plant-derived morphinan as a novel lead compound active against malaria liver stages. PLoS Medicine 3(12): 2392–2402.
• Rasoanaivo, P. & Ratsimamanga-Urverg, S., 1994. Alkaloids from plants of Madagascar in the treatment of drug-resistant Plasmodium malaria. Pure and Applied Chemistry 66(10–11): 2291–2294.
• Rasoanaivo, P., Ratsimamanga-Urverg, S. & Rakoto-Ratsimamanga, A., 1995. Isoquinoline alkaloid constituents of Spirospermum penduliflorum and Strychnopsis thouarsii (Menispermaceae). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 23(6): 679–680.
• Ratsimamanga-Urverg, S., Rasoanaivo, P., Ramiaramanana, L., Milijaona, R., Rafatro, H., Verdier, F., Rakoto-Ratsimamanga, A. & Le Bras, J., 1992. In vitro antimalarial activity and chloroquine potentiating action of two bisbenzylisoquinoline enantiomer alkaloids isolated from Strychnopsis thouarsii and Spirospermum penduliflorum. Planta Medica 58(6): 540–543.
• Schatz, G.E., 2001. Generic tree flora of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 477 pp.
Other references
• Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
• Fang, L.-H., Zhang, Y.-H. & Ku, B.-S., 2005. Fangchinoline inhibited the antinociceptive effect of morphine in mice. Phytomedicine 12(3): 183–188.
• Frappier, F., Jossang, A., Soudon, J., Galvo, F., Rasoanaivo, P., Ratsimamanga-Urverg, S., Saez, J., Schrevel, J. & Grellier, P., 1996. Bisbenzylisoquinolines as modulators of chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum and multidrug resistance in tumor cells. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 1996: 1476–1481.
• Schatz, G., undated. A catalogue of the vascular plants of Madagascar. [Internet]. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, United States. http://www.efloras.org/ flora_info.aspx?flora_id=12. Accessed February 2008.
Author(s)
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
A. Gurib-Fakim
Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius
Associate editors
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
M.S.J. Simmonds
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom
R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Photo editor
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Oyen, L.P.A., 2008. Strychnopsis thouarsii Baill. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
flowering branch