What molecule am I?
Akuammine, also known as vincamajoridine, is an indole alkaloid found in the seeds of the akuamma tree (Picralima nitida) that grows in several central African countries. Its alternative name results from its presence in Vinca major, the periwinkle vine that is native to the western Mediterranean.
In 1927, Thomas Anderson Henry* and Thomas Marvel Sharp at the Wellcome Research Laboratories (Beckenham, UK) were the first to isolate akuammine from P. nitida (then called P. klaineana). Later, in 1955, Maurice-Marie Janot and co-workers at the Institute of the Chemistry of Natural Substances (Gif-sur-Yvette, France) showed that the alkaloids isolated from P. nitida and V. major are identical.
P. nitida seeds have been used in traditional medicine to treat pain and fever. Akuammine itself has pharmacological properties, such as antimalarial activity.
This year, a study conducted by Andrew P. Riley at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Richard M. van Rijn, at Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN), and their colleagues showed that akuammine and three similar alkaloids isolated from P. nitida primarily target opioid receptors in the central nervous system of mice. The authors concluded that “their opioid-preferring activity . . . suggest[s] the akuamma alkaloids provide distinct scaffolds from which novel opioids with unique pharmacologic properties and therapeutic utility can be developed.”
No hazard information for akuammine was available at the time of this writing.
Learn more about this molecule from CAS, the most authoritative and comprehensive source for chemical information.