Presentation Title

The Separation and Isolation of Mesembrine Alkaloids Found in Sceletium tortuosum: A Way to Combat Depression

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

HUB 302-#13

Type of Presentation

Poster

Abstract

Depression and anxiety are currently on the rise affecting nearly 5% of the population worldwide. One of the more popular methods of treating depression involves the use of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRI’s), such as Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft. Many of these SSRI’s also have common side effects, such as insomnia, fatigue, headaches, and in some cases a reduced libido. An alternative approach to potentially treating depression or anxiety with minimal side effects may involve the use of a plant found in South Africa, called Sceletium tortuosum. This plant has been found to contain a class of alkaloid compounds, called mesembrines, which are structurally very similar to serotonin, and may behave in a similar fashion as commercial SSRI’s found on the market today. The goal of this research project was to see if we could isolate and separate these mesembrine compounds from the bulk plant material in measurable amounts (mg levels), and to test them individually for their biological activity. The isolation and purification of these compounds involved classic organic techniques, such as an acid digestion, filtration of the resulting aqueous phase, and an organic extraction with dichloromethane from the bulk ground plant material. Upon completion of this purification process, 2.5 % by weight was obtained for these mesembrine alkaloids. Separation of these compounds involved finding the optimal solvent conditions via thin layer chromatography with silica plates. The ideal solvent conditions were determined to be 95% Dichloromethane/4 % Methanol/1% Triethanolamine. Under these solvent conditions Retention Factor (Rf) values ranged from 0.12 to 0.75 with good separation of the four mesembrine alkaloids. Purity of the isolated compounds was assessed by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS). Ultimately, the same previously determined solvent conditions via TLC plating will be applied to a Solvent Accelerated Chromatographic system to further collect mg amounts of each of the mesembrine compounds for further testing.

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The Separation and Isolation of Mesembrine Alkaloids Found in Sceletium tortuosum: A Way to Combat Depression

HUB 302-#13

Depression and anxiety are currently on the rise affecting nearly 5% of the population worldwide. One of the more popular methods of treating depression involves the use of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRI’s), such as Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft. Many of these SSRI’s also have common side effects, such as insomnia, fatigue, headaches, and in some cases a reduced libido. An alternative approach to potentially treating depression or anxiety with minimal side effects may involve the use of a plant found in South Africa, called Sceletium tortuosum. This plant has been found to contain a class of alkaloid compounds, called mesembrines, which are structurally very similar to serotonin, and may behave in a similar fashion as commercial SSRI’s found on the market today. The goal of this research project was to see if we could isolate and separate these mesembrine compounds from the bulk plant material in measurable amounts (mg levels), and to test them individually for their biological activity. The isolation and purification of these compounds involved classic organic techniques, such as an acid digestion, filtration of the resulting aqueous phase, and an organic extraction with dichloromethane from the bulk ground plant material. Upon completion of this purification process, 2.5 % by weight was obtained for these mesembrine alkaloids. Separation of these compounds involved finding the optimal solvent conditions via thin layer chromatography with silica plates. The ideal solvent conditions were determined to be 95% Dichloromethane/4 % Methanol/1% Triethanolamine. Under these solvent conditions Retention Factor (Rf) values ranged from 0.12 to 0.75 with good separation of the four mesembrine alkaloids. Purity of the isolated compounds was assessed by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS). Ultimately, the same previously determined solvent conditions via TLC plating will be applied to a Solvent Accelerated Chromatographic system to further collect mg amounts of each of the mesembrine compounds for further testing.