Lycopodium alkaloids: Pharmacology

Elín Soffía Olafsdóttir*, Elsa S. Halldorsdottir, N. M. Pich, S. Omarsdottir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this work is to review the current knowledge on the lycopodium alkaloids with an emphasis on their pharmacology and potential medical application. Lycopodium alkaloids are produced by club mosses, a vulnerable group of slow-growing lower plants. (−)-Huperzine A (hupA) isolated from Huperzia serrata is known for its potent and reversible acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibiting activity and is used as a drug for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in China. In addition, hupA has been shown to have neuroprotective effects in preclinical studies. It is by far the most intensively studied lycopodium alkaloid and clinical trials do indicate positive effects on AD symptoms with minimum adverse effects. At present, the greatest hurdle for research and application of lycopodium alkaloids is the lack of sustainable methods to supply these compounds. Lycopodium alkaloids which resemble hupA in having favorable bioavailability, pharmacokinetics, and toxicological profiles, in addition to interesting biological activities, are likely to be included in the search for new drug leads in the future, for example, in the development of multi-target and multidrug therapies for AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNatural Products
Subtitle of host publicationPhytochemistry, Botany and Metabolism of Alkaloids, Phenolics and Terpenes
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783642221446
ISBN (Print)9783642221439
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013.

Other keywords

  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Biological activity
  • Clinical trials
  • Clubmosses
  • Huperzine A
  • Lycopodiaceae
  • Lycopodiumalka oids
  • Pharmacology


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