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Composition, Standardization and Chemical Profiling of Banisteriopsis caapi, a Plant for the Treatment of Neurodegenerative Disorders Relevant to Parkinson’s Disease

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Ethnopharmacological relevance

Banisteriopsis caapi, a woody vine from the Amazonian basin, is popularly known as an ingredient of a sacred drink ayahuasca, widely used throughout the Amazon as a medicinal tea for healing and spiritual exploration. The usefulness of Banisteriopsis caapi has been established for alleviating symptoms of neurological disorders including Parkinson’s disease.

Aim of the study

Primary objective of this study was to develop the process for preparing standardized extracts of Banisteriopsis caapi to achieve high potency for inhibition of human monoamine oxidases (MAO) and antioxidant properties. The aqueous extracts prepared from different parts of the plant collected from different geographical locations and seasons were analyzed by HPLC for principal bioactive markers. The extracts were simultaneously tested in vitro for inhibition of human MAOs and antioxidant activity for analysis of correlation between phytochemical composition of the extracts and bioactivities.

Materials and methods

Reversed-phase HPLC with photodiode array detection was employed to profile the alkaloidal and non-alkaloidal components of the aqueous extract of Banisteriopsis caapi. The Banisteriopsis caapi extracts and standardized compositions were tested in vitro for inhibition of recombinant preparations of human MAO-A and MAO-B. In vitro cell-based assays were employed for evaluation of antioxidant property and mammalian cell cytotoxicity of these preparations.


Among the different aerial parts, leaves, stems/large branches and stem bark of Banisteriopsis caapi, HPLC analysis revealed that most of the dominant chemical and bioactive markers (1, 2, 5, 7–9) were present in high concentrations in dried bark of large branch. A library of HPLC chromatograms has also been generated as a tool for fingerprinting and authentication of the studied Banisteriopsis caapi species. The correlation between potency of MAO inhibition and antioxidant activity with the content of the main active constituents of the aqueous Banisteriopsis caapi extracts and standardized compositions was established. Phytochemical analysis of regular/commercial Banisteriopsis caapi dried stems, obtained from different sources, showed a similar qualitative HPLC profile, but relatively low content of dominant markers 1, 2, 7, and 9, which led to decreased MAO inhibitory and antioxidant potency compared to Banisteriopsis caapi Da Vine.


The ethnopharmacological use of bark of matured stem/large branch of Banisteriopsis caapi as well as whole matured stem is supported by the results obtained in this investigation. Among various constituents of Banisteriopsis caapi, harmine (7), harmaline (6) and tetrahydroharmine (5) are responsible for MAO-A inhibition, while two major proanthocyanidines, epicatechin (8) and procyanidine B2 (9) produce antioxidant effects. The compounds 1–9 can serve as reliable markers for identification and standardization of Banisteriopsis caapi aerial parts, collected in different seasons and/or from different geographical regions.

Wang, Y. H., Samoylenko, V., Tekwani, B. L., Khan, I. A., Miller, L. S., Chaurasiya, N. D., … & Muhammad, I. (2010). Composition, standardization and chemical profiling of Banisteriopsis caapi, a plant for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders relevant to Parkinson’s disease. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 128(3), 662-671.
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