Specification & Spread
Pink quarantus leaves — folia catharanthi rosei
Pink quarantus (pink periwinkle) — catharanthus roseus = vinca rosea
Dogbane family — apocynaceae
Other names: pervinkl, pink lochner.
It is a tropical evergreen shrub 30-60 cm tall. The stem is almost cylindrical, often bare, strongly branched (in adult plants up to 65 shoots are formed).
The leaves are opposite, short-petaled, entire, elliptical or oblong-elliptic with a wedge-shaped base. The venation is feathery. The central vein protrudes from the bottom. The leaf length is up to 8 cm, the is width up to 3.5 cm. It is leathery, shiny, dark green and sometimes pubescent on the underside.
The flowers are regular, pentamerous, with a double perianth, arranged in pairs in the axils of the leaves. The calyx is small and quinquepartite. The spinolepole corolla is with long tube and wide quinquepartite limb which is raspberry-pink, pink or white.
The fruit is a sickle-shaped and dark brown two-leaf with numerous seeds.
Spreading. The country of quarantus is Java.
Habitat. It is cultivated in the form of annual crop. The industrial production of the raw materials is organized in a semi-humid-subtropical climate zone (Georgia), in the Kuban-Priazovsky district of the Krasnodar Territory (Russia), in the zone of moderate continental climate, as well as in the zone of arid climate in the Chimkent region (Kazakhstan).
About 80 alkaloids of the indole series were isolated from the aerial part of the pink quarantus, of which 26 are dimers.
Among the latter there are found alkaloids with antitumor activity, the most important are:
The content of these alkaloids in the leaves is very small:
- vinblastine is about 0.005%,
- vincristine is 0.001%.
Harvesting and storage of raw materials
Harvesting. The plants are mown in the phase of mass flowering or the beginning of fruiting at a height of 10-15 cm from the soil surface.
Drying. It is dried on the air in the shade or in the dryer at a temperature of 40-50 ºС. After drying, the leaves are threshed to separate and remove the stems.
External signs of raw materials
There are broken, rarely whole leaves with a small amount of other parts of the plant (leafy tops of the stems with buds, flowers or unripe fruits, pieces of thin stems, flowers and immature fruits).
The leaves are short, elliptical or oblong-elliptical with a wedge-shaped base, entire, slightly longitudinally wrinkled with a feathery venation and central vein projecting from the bottom.
The stem is round or oblate, up to 0.2 cm thick with two pairs of weakly protruding ribs. The flowers are regular, pentamerous and tubular-funnel-shaped. The corolla tube is 8-10 times longer than the calyx.
The fruits is long parmelia with numerous oval pitted seeds.
The colour of the leaves is dark green. The stems are yellowish green with a violet tinge. The flowers are yellowish or pale lilac. The fruits are brownish green. The mature seeds are black. The unripe seeds are greenish brown.
The smell is peculiar and unpleasant. The taste is not determined(!).
Properties and application
Pink quarantus is of great interest for medicine due to antitumor activity noted both in herbal preparations of the plant, and in alkaloids that isolated from the plant.
The most active of the alkaloids in this regard are:
- vinblastine and
- antitumor cytostatic activity,
- block the mitosis of cells at the metaphase stage,
- inhibit the multiplication of tumor cells and lymphocytes,
- to a lesser extent affect erythropoiesis.
By the nature of the action, vinblastine is similar to colchicine, although it has a completely different chemical structure from colchicine.
There is evidence that vincristine:
- stimulates the function of the adrenal glands and
- increases corticosterone production.
It plays a certain role in its antitumor action and enhances antitumor immunity.
Application of quarantus
Vinblastine is prescribed for generalized forms:
- Hodgkin's disease,
- lymph and hematosarcoma,
- and other neoplastic diseases.
Vincristine in chemical structure and mechanism of action is similar to vinblastine. It is used in complex therapy:
- acute leukemia,
- breast cancer,
- and other malignant tumors.
On the basis of vinblastine get semi-synthetic derivatives, which are also used as antitumor agents.
- For hormone-resistant,
- prostate cancer,
- breast cancer
- and non-small cell lung cancer.
It is contraindicated in pregnancy and breastfeeding, infectious diseases, pronounced inhibition of bone marrow functions and abnormal liver function.