Determination of content of indole alkaloids in cell biomass of Rauwolfia serpentina Benth. ex Kurz tissue culture


  • O. A. Bieda Scientific service company “OTAVA” LLC, Kyiv, Ukraine, Ukraine
  • I. I. Konvaliuk Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics of the NAS of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • L. P. Mozhylevska Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics of the NAS of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • S. S. Lukashov Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics of the NAS of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • V. A. Kunakh Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics of the NAS of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • S. M. Yarmoluk Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics of the NAS of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine



Rauwolfia serpentina Benth. ex Kurz, cell culture, tissue culture, indole alkaloids, ajmaline, reserpine, yohimbine


Cardiovascular diseases are the most common human diseases, hence, the production of cardiological (in particular, anti-arrhythmic) medications from the natural sources is an ever-actual task. Rauwolfia serpentina Benth. is a tropical fruticose plant that is able to produce and concentrate indole alkaloids, especially ajmaline and its derivatives, which are the most effective medications against ventricular arrhythmia with low side effects.

Aim of the study. Determination of the qualitative and quantitative content of indole alkaloids in cell biomass of Rauwolfia serpentina tissue culture, obtained by the prolonged in vitro growth.

Materials and methods. Object: cell biomass of Rauwolfia serpentina tissue culture (K-27 strain), obtained by methods of long-term cell selection in vitro. Alkaloids content determination: TSQ Vantage LC-MS (ThermoFischer Scientific).

Results. 20 indole alkaloids are found in cell biomass of Rauwolfia serpentina tissue culture (K-27 strain). The highest content is registered for ajmaline and its derivatives (0.690 % mass. for ajmaline). The contents of reserpine and yohimbine were found to be as low as 0.009 % and 0.020 %, respectively.

Conclusions. It is established that the content of indole alkaloids is higher in K-27 strain in comparison to natural plant and is stable over more than 30 years of its growth. Total alkaloids content was found to be 2.8 % of dry cell biomass, and total ajmaline-type alkaloids content (including ajmaline) was found to be 1.6 % of dry cell biomass. In contrast, the total alkaloid contents in the natural plant material is reported to be in the range of 0.8–1.3 %.


Srivastava, A., Tripathi, A. K., Pandey, R., Verma, R. K., Gupta M. M. (2006). Quantitative determination of reserpine, ajmaline and ajmalicine in Rauvolfia serpentina by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Journal of Chromatographic Science, 44(9), 557-560.

Poonam, Agrawal S., Mishra, S. (2013). Physiological, biochemical and modern biotechnological approach to improvement of Rauwolfia serpentina. IOSR-Journal of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences, 6(2), 73-78.

Lobay D. (2015). Rauwolfia in the Treatment of Hypertension. Integrative medicine, 14(3), 40-46.

Singh, M., Kaur, R., Rajput, R., & Mathur, G. (2017). Evaluating the therapeutic efficiency and drug targeting ability of alkaloids present in Rauwolfia serpentina. International Journal of Green Pharmacy, 11(3), 132-142.

Kumaria, R., Rathi, B., Rani, A., & Bhatnagar, S. (2013). Rauvolfia serpentina L. Benth. ex Kurz.: phytochemical, pharmacological and therapeutic aspects. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research, 23(2), 348-355.

Shamon, S. D., & Perez, M. I. (2016). Blood pressure-lowering efficacy of reserpine for primary hypertension. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 12(12), CD007655.

Cimolai, N., & Cimolai, T. (2011). Yohimbine use for physical enhancement and its potential toxicity. Journal of dietary supplements, 8(4), 346-354.

Von Poser, G., Andrade, H. H., da Silva, K. V., Henriques, A. T., & Henriques, J. A. (1990). Genotoxic, mutagenic and recombinogenic effects of rauwolfia alkaloids. Mutation research, 232(1), 37-43.

Tarkowská D. (2020). A Fast and Reliable UHPLC-MS/MS-Based Method for Screening Selected Pharmacologically Significant Natural Plant Indole Alkaloids. Molecules, 25(14), 3274.

Kunakh, V. A. (2005). Biotekhnolohiia likarskykh roslyn. Henetychni ta fiziolohichno-biokhimichni osnovy [Biotechnology of medician plants. Genetic, physiological and biochemical basis]. Kyiv: Logos. [in Ukrainian].

Kunakh, V. A. (2005). Twenty five years long stable biosynthesis of ajmaline by related hormone-independed Rauwolfia serpentina cell lines. Euromedica-Hannover-2005 (16-17 Juni) International Congress and Exhibition. Programm Abstracts. Hannover.

Mukherjee, E., Gantait, S., Kundu, S., Sarkar, S., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2019). Biotechnological interventions on the genus Rauvolfia: recent trends and imminent prospects. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 103(18), 7325-7354.

Kunakh, V. A. (1996). Somaclonal Variation in Rauwolfia. In Y. P. S. Bajaj (eds.). Somaclonal Variation in Crop Improvement II. Biotechnology in Agriculture and Forestry. (Vol. 36, pp. 315-332). Springer.

Bindu, S., Rameshkumar, K. B., Kumar, B., Singh, A., & Anilkumar, C. (2014). Distribution of reserpine in rauvolfia species from India - HPTLC and LC-MS studies. Industrial Crops and Products, 62, 430-436.

Vollosovich, A. G., & Butenko, R. G. (1970). Kul'tura tkani rauvol'fii zmeinoy kak produtsent alkaloidov [Tissue culture of Rauwolfia serpentina as a alkaloids producer]. In Culture of isolated organs, tissues and cells of plants. Moscow: Nauka. [in Russian].

Vollosovich, N. E., Vollosovich, A. G., Kovaleva, T. A., & Butenko, R. G. (1976). Shtammy kul'tury tkaney Rauwolfia serpentina Benth i ikh produktivnost' [Tissue culture strains of Rauwolfia serpentina Benth. and their productivity]. Rastitel’nyye resursy, 12(4), 578-583. [in Russian].

Stöckigt, J., Pfitzner, A., & Firl, J. (1981). Indole alkaloids from cell suspension cultures of Rauwolfia serpentina benth. Plant cell reports, 1(1), 36-39.

Yamamoto, O., & Yamada, Y. (1986). Production of reserpine and its optimization in cultured Rauwolfia serpentina Benth. cells. Plant cell reports, 5(1), 50-53.

Sheludko, Yu. V. (2004). Otrymannia ta fitokhimichnyi analiz transhennoi korenevoi kultury Rauwolfia serpentina yak dzherela novykh indolnykh alkaloidiv [Obtaining and phytochemical analysis of transgenic root culture of Rauwolfia serpentina as a source of new indole alkaloids] (Abstract PhD thesis). Institute of Cell Biology and Genetic Engineering, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. [in Ukrainian].

Goel, M., Goel, S., Banerjee, S., Shanker, K., & Kukreja, A. (2010). Agrobacterium rhizogenes-Mediated Transformed Roots of Rauwolfia serpentina for Reserpine Biosynthesis. Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology, 4, 8-14.



How to Cite

Bieda OA, Konvaliuk II, Mozhylevska LP, Lukashov SS, Kunakh VA, Yarmoluk SM. Determination of content of indole alkaloids in cell biomass of Rauwolfia serpentina Benth. ex Kurz tissue culture. CIPM [Internet]. 2021Mar.18 [cited 2023Dec.8];14(1):73-8. Available from:



Original research