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MeSH Review


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Disease relevance of Rauwolfia

  • The availability of antihypertensive drugs in the 1950s (rauwolfia preparations, veratrum derivatives, thiocyanates, hydralazine, and the ganglion blockers) and the discovery of more effective agents in the period from the 1960s to the present have dramatically improved the prognosis of hypertensive patients [1].
  • CONCLUSIONS: With the exception of diuretics and renal cell carcinoma, the association between antihypertensive drugs and malignancy was either low grade (rauwolfia), uncertain (atenolol), absent (ACE inhibitors), or absent with a yet to be investigated inverse association (calcium antagonists) [2].
  • Plasma prolactin levels in women at postmenopausal age with a family history of breast cancer or a prescription for antihypertensive Rauwolfia treatment [3].
  • In a study conducted in New Zealand, pindolol compared favorably with drugs previously used for hypertension, (methyldopa, diuretics, rauwolfia, guanethidine, etc.). It proved slightly less effective than methyldopa in a Canadian trial but significantly more effective than this drug in a South African study [4].

High impact information on Rauwolfia

  • In addition, there was no significant increase in risk associated with use of either rauwolfia derivatives (OR = 1.2), thiazide preparations (OR = 1.2), or methyldopa (OR = 1.1) [5].
  • The enzyme strictosidine synthase (STR1) from the Indian medicinal plant Rauvolfia serpentina is of primary importance for the biosynthetic pathway of the indole alkaloid ajmaline [6].
  • In this study we show that endogenous jasmonic acid and its methyl ester accumulate rapidly and transiently after treatment of plant cell suspension cultures of Rauvolfia canescens and Eschscholtzia californica with a yeast elicitor [7].
  • The rapid induction of the metal-binding PCs has been observed in cell suspension cultures of Rauvolfia serpentina, in seedlings of Arabidopsis, and in enzyme preparations of Silene vulgaris upon challenge to arsenicals [8].
  • The results imply that lithium can induce head twitches in the presence of rauwolfia alkaloids and may exert its effect in part by acting on the serotonergic neuron system [9].

Biological context of Rauwolfia


Anatomical context of Rauwolfia

  • A new monoterpenoid indole alkaloid, 3-oxo-rhazinilam (1), was isolated from intergeneric somatic hybrid cell cultures of Rauvolfia serpentina and Rhazya stricta, and the structure was determined by detailed 1D and 2D NMR analysis [12].

Associations of Rauwolfia with chemical compounds


Gene context of Rauwolfia

  • Plant cell suspension cultures of Rauwolfia produce within 1 week approximately 250 nkat/l of raucaffricine-O-beta-D-glucosidase [18].
  • Reserpine, a Rauwolfia alkaloid, was shown to increase activity of the hepatic nitrogen metabolizing enzymes xanthine dehydrogenase, purine nucleoside phosphorylase, and tyrosine aminotransferase, when administered orally to young chicks [19].

Analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic context of Rauwolfia


  1. Historical perspective on the management of hypertension. Moser, M. Am. J. Med. (1986) [Pubmed]
  2. Antihypertensive therapy and the risk of malignancies. Grossman, E., Messerli, F.H., Goldbourt, U. Eur. Heart J. (2001) [Pubmed]
  3. Plasma prolactin levels in women at postmenopausal age with a family history of breast cancer or a prescription for antihypertensive Rauwolfia treatment. de Waard, F., Kwa, H.G., Poortman, J. Oncology (1980) [Pubmed]
  4. Therapeutic trials of pindolol in hypertension: comparison and combination with other drugs. Fanchamps, A. Am. Heart J. (1982) [Pubmed]
  5. Rauwolfia use and breast cancer: a case-control study. Stanford, J.L., Martin, E.J., Brinton, L.A., Hoover, R.N. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. (1986) [Pubmed]
  6. The structure of Rauvolfia serpentina strictosidine synthase is a novel six-bladed beta-propeller fold in plant proteins. Ma, X., Panjikar, S., Koepke, J., Loris, E., Stöckigt, J. Plant Cell (2006) [Pubmed]
  7. Jasmonic acid is a signal transducer in elicitor-induced plant cell cultures. Gundlach, H., Müller, M.J., Kutchan, T.M., Zenk, M.H. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1992) [Pubmed]
  8. Detoxification of arsenic by phytochelatins in plants. Schmöger, M.E., Oven, M., Grill, E. Plant Physiol. (2000) [Pubmed]
  9. Serotonergic function in mouse head twitches induced by lithium and reserpine. Yamada, K., Furukawa, T. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) (1979) [Pubmed]
  10. Strictosidine synthase from Rauvolfia serpentina: analysis of a gene involved in indole alkaloid biosynthesis. Bracher, D., Kutchan, T.M. Arch. Biochem. Biophys. (1992) [Pubmed]
  11. Serum dopamine-beta-hydroxylase activity in essential hypertension and in chronic renal failure with hypertension. Aoki, K., Tazumi, K., Takikawa, K. Jpn. Circ. J. (1975) [Pubmed]
  12. 3-oxo-rhazinilam: a new indole alkaloid from Rauvolfia serpentina x Rhazya stricta hybrid plant cell cultures. Gerasimenko, I., Sheludko, Y., Stöckigt, J. J. Nat. Prod. (2001) [Pubmed]
  13. A newly-detected reductase from Rauvolfia closes a gap in the biosynthesis of the antiarrhythmic alkaloid ajmaline. Gao, S., von Schumann, G., Stöckigt, J. Planta Med. (2002) [Pubmed]
  14. Benzodiazepine agonist-type activity of raubasine, a rauwolfia serpentina alkaloid. Charveron, M., Assié, M.B., Stenger, A., Briley, M. Eur. J. Pharmacol. (1984) [Pubmed]
  15. Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of native and selenomethionyl vinorine synthase from Rauvolfia serpentina. Ma, X., Koepke, J., Bayer, A., Fritzsch, G., Michel, H., Stöckigt, J. Acta Crystallogr. D Biol. Crystallogr. (2005) [Pubmed]
  16. Hydroquinone: O-glucosyltransferase from cultivated Rauvolfia cells: enrichment and partial amino acid sequences. Arend, J., Warzecha, H., Stöckigt, J. Phytochemistry (2000) [Pubmed]
  17. The use of drugs in Estonia compared to the Nordic countries. Kiivet, R.A., Bergman, U., Sjöqvist, F. Eur. J. Clin. Pharmacol. (1992) [Pubmed]
  18. Purification, partial amino acid sequence and structure of the product of raucaffricine-O-beta-D-glucosidase from plant cell cultures of Rauwolfia serpentina. Warzecha, H., Obitz, P., Stöckigt, J. Phytochemistry (1999) [Pubmed]
  19. The influence of reserpine on nitrogen metabolizing enzymes in chick liver. Wu, J.M. Biochim. Biophys. Acta (1982) [Pubmed]
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