Research Highlight

Spice against cancer

doi:10.1038/nindia.2009.312 Published online 20 October 2009

Roots of the ubiquitous table spice black pepper have alkaloids effective against cancer. The alkaloids have shown efficacy in stifling the growth of lung and colon cancer cells1.

Black pepper roots contain amide alkaloids like piperidine and pyrrolidine. These amide alkaloids have earlier exhibited pharmacological properties such as central nervous system stimulant, analgesic and antipyretic. In addition, they have shown anti-diarrhoeal, anti-inflammatory, insecticidal and anti-tuberculosis activities.

To explore their anti-cancer properties, the researchers took commercially available butanal and hexanal to synthetically produce three (1, 2, 3) amide alkaloids. They tested the anti-cancer efficacy of the alkaloids against three cancer cell lines (breast, lung and colon cancers) in lab.

Compound 1 exhibited activity against both colon and lung cancer cells, compound 2 was effective against colon cancer cells and compound 3 showed anti-lung cancer activity.

The authors of this work are from: Organic Chemistry Division-II & I, and Pharmacology Division, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad and National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Hyderabad, India.


  1. Srinivas, Ch. et al. First stereoselective total synthesis and anticancer activity of new amide alkaloids of roots of pepper. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 19, 5915-5918 (2009) | Article |