The leaves of a tropical plant Kratom, Mitragyna speciosa KORTH. (Rubiaceae), have been traditionally used as a substitute for opium. By phytochemical studies on the constituents of the plant growing in Thailand as well as in Malaysia, several 9-methoxy-Corynanthe-type monoterpenoid indole alkaloids including new natural products were isolated. The structures of these new compounds were elucidated by the modern spectroscopic methods and/or chiral-total syntheses. The chiral total synthesis of (−)-mitragynine, a major component of this plant, was achieved. Potent opioid agonistic properties of mitragynine, which acts on μ- and δ-opioid subtype receptors, and of mitragynine pseudoindoxyl, whose analgesic activity is more potent than that of morphine, were clarified in in vitro experiments. The essential structural features in mitragynine for revealing the analgesic activity were elucidated by pharmacological evaluation of the natural and synthetic mitragynine derivatives.
Mitragynine (1) is a major alkaloidal component in the Thai traditional medicinal herb, Mitragyna speciosa, and has been proven to exhibit analgesic activity mediated by opioid receptors. By utilizing this natural product as a lead compound, synthesis of some derivatives, evaluations of the structure-activity relationship, and surveys of the intrinsic activities and potencies on opioid receptors were performed with guinea pig ileum. The affinities of some compounds for mu-, delta-, and kappa-receptors were determined in a receptor binding assay. The essential structural moieties in the Corynanthe type indole alkaloids for inducing the opioid agonistic activity were also clarified. The oxidative derivatives of mitragynine, i.e., mitragynine pseudoindoxyl (2) and 7-hydroxymitragynine (12), were found as opioid agonists with higher potency than morphine in the experiment with guinea pig ileum. In addition, 2 induced an analgesic activity in the tail flick test in mice.
Mitragynine, an indole alkaloid from Thai folk medicine Mitragyna speciosa, exerts agonistic effects on opioid receptors. Gastric acid secretion is proposed to be regulated by opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS). Previously, we reported the dual roles (inhibition via micro-opioid receptors and stimulation via kappa-opioid receptors) of the opioid system in the central control of gastric acid secretion. We investigated whether mitragynine affects gastric acid secretion via opioid receptors in the CNS. Injection of mitragynine (30 microg) alone into the lateral cerebroventricle did not have a significant effect on basal gastric acid secretion in the perfused stomach of anesthetized rats. Injection of mitragynine (3-30 microg) into the fourth cerebroventricle, like morphine, inhibited 2-deoxy-D-glucose-stimulated gastric acid secretion. The inhibitory effect of mitragynine (30 microg) was reversed by naloxone (100 microg). These results suggest that mitragynine has a morphine-like action on gastric acid secretion in the CNS