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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011, Article ID 418597, 7 pages
Original Article

Alstonine as an Antipsychotic: Effects on Brain Amines and Metabolic Changes

1Laboratório de Etnofamacologia, ICBS, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Rua Sarmento Leite 500/202, 90050-170 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
2Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Farmacêuticas, UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Av. Ipiranga, 2752, 1° andar, 90610-000 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
3Departamento de Patologia, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo, USP, São Paulo-SP 05508-900, Brazil
4International Centre for Ethnomedicine and Drug Development, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
5Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria

Received 4 August 2008; Accepted 12 January 2009

Copyright © 2011 Viviane M. Linck et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Managing schizophrenia has never been a trivial matter. Furthermore, while classical antipsychotics induce extrapyramidal side effects and hyperprolactinaemia, atypical antipsychotics lead to diabetes, hyperlipidaemia, and weight gain. Moreover, even with newer drugs, a sizable proportion of patients do not show significant improvement. Alstonine is an indole alkaloid identified as the major component of a plant-based remedy used in Nigeria to treat the mentally ill. Alstonine presents a clear antipsychotic profile in rodents, apparently with differential effects in distinct dopaminergic pathways. The aim of this study was to complement the antipsychotic profile of alstonine, verifying its effects on brain amines in mouse frontal cortex and striatum. Additionally, we examined if alstonine induces some hormonal and metabolic changes common to antipsychotics. HPLC data reveal that alstonine increases serotonergic transmission and increases intraneuronal dopamine catabolism. In relation to possible side effects, preliminary data suggest that alstonine does not affect prolactin levels, does not induce gains in body weight, but prevents the expected fasting-induced decrease in glucose levels. Overall, this study reinforces the proposal that alstonine is a potential innovative antipsychotic, and that a comprehensive understanding of its neurochemical basis may open new avenues to developing newer antipsychotic medications.