The Monseed botanical family Menispermaceae

The Monseed plant family (Menispermaceae) contains L-tyrosine-derived alkaloids (Figure 12). Plant species belonging to this family are found throughout the tropics and, especially in, tropical lowland zones154. The Monseed botanical family is large, containing about 70 genera and 450 species (Table 11). The genus Stephania produces tetrandrine and stephanine, while the genus Curare (Chondrodendron) yields curare and tubocurarine. All are known to be medicinal alkaloids. More than 150 different alkaloids have been isolated from plants of Stephania genus. Camacho126 reported on many of alkaloids found in Stephania dinklagei, a climbing shrub of the deciduous forest of Africa. They were methylliriodendronine, 2-O,N-dimetylliriodendronine, liriodenine, dicentronine, corydine and aloe-emodin. These alkaloids display strong biological impact with antiprotozal activity. A report by Goren et al.155 noted that these plants also yielded liriodenine, corydine, isocorydine, atherospermidine, stephalagine and dehydrostephalagine. Liriodenine showed strong cytotoxic activity. Cory-dine and atherospermidine even revealed activity damaging to DNA. Zhang and Yue156 reported on the isolation and structural elucidation of new alkaloids from Stephania longa Lour., a perennial herbaceous liana. They detected stephalonines A-I, norprostephabyssine, isoprostephabyssine, isolonganone and isostephabo-line. Chen et al.157 have isolated tetrandrine from the root of a Chinese herb Stephania tetrandra S. Moore. This alkaloid showed to inhibit both culture-activation and TGF-beta(1)-stimulated activation of quiescent rat hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) in vitro151. From Stephania cepharantha Hayata, cepharathine, cepharanoline, isotetrandrine and berbamine have been isolated158.

Cepharanthine is a particularly active component of hair growth. Moreover, the isolation and characterization of alkaloids (cycleanine, cycleanine N-oxide, isochondodendrine, cocsoline and quinine) from Epinetrum villosum (Exell)

Table 11 General botanical characteristics of the Monseed family


Botanical Forms and Parts


Table 11 General botanical characteristics of the Monseed family


Botanical Forms and Parts


Botanical forms





Usually palmately veined

Often lobed








Curved embryo

Troupin has also been reported159. These alkaloids were found to exhibit antimicrobial and antiplasmodial activities. Epinetrum villosum is a twining liana, growing in secondary forests in the coastal areas in Congo and Angola and is used in traditional medical for the treatment of fever, malaria and dysentery159 160. The genus Cissampelos contains cissampareine, which has potential medicinal uses, but it is also psychoactive. It is a principal alkaloid of dawidjiewortel (Cissampelos capensis), which grows in South Africa.

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