Leucojum aestivum (summer snowflake) is a plant species used for the extraction of galanthamine, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Extracts from bulbs collected from 18 Bulgarian populations and from shoot-clumps obtained in vitro from 8 different populations showed variations in their alkaloid composition. Nineteen alkaloids were detected in the studied samples by GC-MS. Typically, the alkaloid fractions of L. aestivum bulbs were dominated by galanthamine type compounds, but lycorine, haemanthamine and homolycorine type alkaloids were also found as dominant compounds in some of the samples. Extracts from the shoot-clumps obtained in vitro were found to contain galanthamine or lycorine as main alkaloids. The galanthamine content ranged from 28 to 2104 μg/g dry weight in the bulbs, and from traces to 454 μg/g dry weight in the shoot-clumps.
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