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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Coronary and aortic vasoconstriction by cathinone, the active constituent of khat.

1. The psychostimulant constituent of khat leaves, S-(-)-cathinone, was examined for vascular activity on the coronary vasculature of guinea-pig-isolated perfused hearts and aortic ring preparations. 2. Cathinone caused coronary vasoconstriction, negative inotropy and negative chronotropy in isolated hearts. The major metabolite of cathinone after its ingestion, 1R.2S-(-)-norephedrine (norephedrine), also caused coronary vasoconstriction comparable with that by cathinone. Norephedrine, however, had no effect on force or rate of cardiac contractions. 3. Cocaine (10 microm) potentiated the coronary vasoconstriction and positive inotropy by noradrenaline indicating inhibition of neuronal uptake. The vasoconstriction and negative inotropy by cathinone, however, were not affected, indicating that its action was not via release of noradrenaline from sympathetic neurones. 4. The alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonist, prazosin, blocked the vasoconstriction by noradrenaline, but not that produced by cathinone in the presence of cocaine. This indicates that the coronary vasoconstriction by cathinone was not due to an action on alpha(1)-adrenoceptors either directly or indirectly through noradrenaline release. 5. Three repeated doses of cathinone displayed the same coronary vasoconstrictor responses, indicating a lack of tachyphylaxis and therefore confirming that the response was unlikely to be due to indirect sympathomimetic activity through release of noradrenaline. 6. In guinea-pig aortic rings, the order of vasoconstrictor activity was: noradrenaline > norephedrine > cathinone, with each causing approximately equivalent maximum responses. The time to reach plateau contractions was shortest for noradrenaline (5.1 +/- 0.5 min), then norephedrine (9.3 +/- 1.5 min) and cathinone the longest (25.4 +/- 3.2 min, 335 microm dose). 7 These results indicate that cathinone has vasoconstrictor activity which is not due to indirect or direct sympathomimetic activity. The precise mechanism for this vasoconstriction remains to be determined. The coronary vasoconstriction may explain the increased incidence of myocardial infarction in khat chewers, which may arise from coronary vasospasm.[1]


  1. Coronary and aortic vasoconstriction by cathinone, the active constituent of khat. Al-Motarreb, A.L., Broadley, K.J. Autonomic & autacoid pharmacology. (2003) [Pubmed]
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