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In vitro inhibition of human acetyl- and butyryl-cholinesterase by Narcissus poeticus L. (Amaryllidaceae) flower absolute

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ed Okello, Dr Chryssa Dimaki, Emeritus Professor Elaine Perry


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Since the alkaloid galanthamine occurring in genera such as Narcissus and Galanthus is an inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and is used in the treatment of dementia, and as a number of plant essential oils are also currently being explored as therapeutic agents, we examined the cholinesterase inhibitory effects of Narcissus poeticus L. absolute and determined the composition by gas chromatography/ mass spectrometry (GC/MS). In contrast to galanthamine, the absolute was more potent as a butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) inhibitor than an AChE inhibitor. Differences in biological activity were not unexpected since the absolute contains various terpenoids and benzene derivatives, rather than alkaloids. Lineweaver-Burk and Dixon plots indicate the nature of inhibition to be non-competitive ‘mixed’ type (Kies > Kie). Whether there is scope for the application of the absolute therapeutically is unclear as extracts from species of Narcissus are rarely used in aromatherapy (although are used in the perfume industry). Since the essential oils currently being tested have primarily behavioural effects and also are not reported to have cholinergic bioactivities, the absolute from Narcissus species may have a place in more cognitive domains.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Okello EJ, Dimaki C, Howes MJR, Houghton PJ, Perry EK

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics

Year: 2008

Volume: 2

Issue: 3

Pages: 105-110

Print publication date: 01/10/2008

ISSN (print): 1532-2106

Publisher: Churchill Livingstone