Nepetalactone

February 15, 2010

(+)-cis,trans-Nepetalactone is the primary psychoactive ingredient in catnip (Nepeta cataria). It was isolated in 1941 by S. M. McElvain and co-workers; and it was the first fully characterized methylcyclopentane monoterpenoid. In 2009, M. Christmann and coauthors used cis,trans-nepetalactone as the starting material to synthesize (+)-englerin A, a promising kidney cancer drug candidate. The synthesis confirmed the absolute configuration of natural englerin A.

MOTW update:
May 3, 2021

cis,trans-Nepetalactone is the primary psychoactive ingredient in catnip (Nepeta cataria). In 2009, it was the starting material for synthesizing (+)-englerin A, a promising kidney cancer drug candidate.

It has long been known that catnip repels mosquitoes; but until this year, the repellence mechanism was unknown. Marcus Stensmyr and co-workers at Lund University (Sweden) discovered that nepetalactone activates a receptor in mosquitoes that makes them feel pain. Cats, among many other animals, have the same receptor; but clearly the effect is different for them.

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