Ajmaline - Mysteriously chilling out your heart

  • monoterpenoid indole alkaloid manufactured by Rauvolfia serpentina (Indian snakeroot or sarpagandha), a tropical evergreen plant used traditionally in Indian medicine
    • is synthesized via a complex pathway involving an impressive number of long-named enzymes
      • the first step, common to the biosynthesis of most terpenoid indole alkaloids, is a condensation reaction that serves to combine the precursors tryptamine and secologanin into a super-molecule
    • Rauvolfia serpentina is also a natural source of reserpine, an antipsychotic and antihypertensive drug that blocks the release of monoamine neurotransmitters
  • class Ia antiarrhythmic drug used to treat abnormal heart rhythms such as ventricular tachycardia
  • also used to screen for individuals afflicted with Brugada syndrome, a genetic disease that predisposes one to dying suddenly and terribly due to unanticipated ventricular fibrillation, which can lead to cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death
    • involves having some sort of mutation in a gene encoding an ion channel or ion channel modulator found in cardiac muscle cells
  • its mechanism of action remains poorly understood, although it has been shown to block voltage-gated sodium and potassium channels in skeletal muscle, suggesting it has a similar action on cardiac (heart) muscle, ultimately acting to depress the electrical activity of the heart so as to abolish arrythmias
  • ajmaline was named by its discovers after Hakim Ajmal Khan, a famous Indian physician and nationalist who, arguably appropriately, died of heart problems
- Friedrich O et al. NA+- and K+-channels as molecular targets of the alkaloid ajmaline in skeletal muscle fibres. Br J Pharmacol. 2007 May;151(1):82-93. Epub 2007 Mar 12.
- Isharwal S, Gupta S. Rustom Jal Vakil: his contributions to cardiology.
Tex Heart Inst J. 2006;33(2):161-70. [link]
- Ruppert M et al. Functional expression of an ajmaline pathway-specific esterase from Rauvolfia in a novel plant-virus expression system. Planta. 2005 Nov;222(5):888-98. Epub 2005 Aug 18.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brugada_syndrome

(with thanks to Jim for the suggestion!)

2 chemically inspired comments:

TowmotorTowmotor said...

I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if the above is spam, since it doesn't appear to be selling anything.