Affiliation: School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong.
Isoquinoline alkaloids belong to a large family of aromatic compounds with over 400 members. Their biological activities include antimalarial, anti-HIV, insect growth retarding antitumor, antimicrobial. They are present in a variety of plants including medicinal herbs. Naturally occurring isoquinoline compounds have a protective function against insects. Isoquinoline alkaloids are associated with quinoline alkaloids and constitute an important division of the alkaloid family. Berberine which is one of most common examples of isoquinoline alkaloids has been well studied as an antiinfective agent. Berberine showed significant antimicrobial activity against several microbes through inhibiting the assembly function of FtsZ and the bacteria cell division. Other active alkaloids have effectively been used in the treatment of chronic inflammation, asthma and infection. Recent studies also indicate that herbal alkaloids show different pharmacological and anti-infective activities. In the present review, the recent development and the biologic activity of active plant alkaloids as an infective agent is described.