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Concept: Ergoline


Ergot derivatives are drugs with vasoconstrictor effects that are used to abort migraine attacks. This study aims to determine how ergotamine derivatives are prescribed by physicians in Colombia, find variables associated with inappropriate prescribing, and review potential interactions in our patients.

Concepts: Caffeine, Ergot, Ergoline, Ergotamine


Use of unauthorized synthetic drugs is a serious, forensic, regulatory and public health issue. In this scenario, consumption of drug-impregnated blotters is very frequent. For decades, blotters have been generally impregnated with the potent hallucinogen known as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); however, since 2013 blotter stamps with N-2 methoxybenzyl-substituted phenylethylamine hallucinogen designated as “NBOMes” have been seized in Chile. To address this issue with readily accessible laboratory equipment, we have developed and validated a new HPTLC method for the identification and quantitation of 25-C-NBOMe in seized blotters and its confirmation by GC-MS. The proposed method was validated according to SWGTOX recommendations and is suitable for routine analysis of seized blotters containing 25-C-NBOMe. With the validated method, we analyzed 15 real samples, in all cases finding 25-C-NBOMe in a wide dosage range (701.0-1943.5 µg per blotter). In this situation, we can assume that NBOMes are replacing LSD as the main hallucinogenic drug consumed in blotters in Chile.

Concepts: Drug, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Psychedelic drug, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Ergoline


Ergot alkaloids are highly diverse in structure, exhibit diverse effects on animals, and are produced by diverse fungi in phylum Ascomycota, including pathogens and mutualistic symbionts of plants. These mycotoxins are best known from the fungal family, Clavicipitaceae, and are named for the ergot fungi that, through millennia, have contaminated grains and caused mass poisonings, with effects ranging from dry gangrene to convulsions and death. However, they are also useful sources of pharmaceuticals for a variety of medical purposes. More than a half-century of research has brought us extensive knowledge of ergot-alkaloid biosynthetic pathways from common early steps to several taxon-specific branches. Furthermore, a recent flurry of genome sequencing has revealed the genomic processes underlying ergot-alkaloid diversification. In this review we discuss the evolution of ergot-alkaloid biosynthesis genes and gene clusters, including roles of gene recruitment, duplication and neofunctionalization, as well as gene loss, in diversifying structures of clavines, lysergic acid amides and complex ergopeptines. Also reviewed are prospects for manipulating ergot alkaloid profiles to enhance suitability of endophytes for forage grasses.

Concepts: Evolution, Fungus, Ascomycota, Alkaloid, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Ergoline, Ergotamine


The development of fungal endophytes of the genus Epichloë in grasses results in the production of different groups of alkaloids, whose mechanism and biological spectrum of toxicity can differ considerably. Ergot alkaloids, when present in endophyte-infected tall fescue, are responsible for “fescue toxicosis” in livestock, whereas indole-diterpene alkaloids, when present in endophyte-infected ryegrass, are responsible for “ryegrass staggers”. In contrast, peramine and loline alkaloids are deterrent and/or toxic to insects. Other toxic effects in livestock associated with the consumption of endophyte-infected grass that contain ergot alkaloids include the “sleepy grass” and “drunken horse grass” diseases. Although ergovaline is the main ergopeptine alkaloid produced in endophyte-infected tall fescue and is recognized as responsible for fescue toxicosis, a number of questions still exist concerning the profile of alkaloid production in tall fescue and the worldwide distribution of tall fescue toxicosis. The purpose of this review is to present ergot alkaloids produced in endophyte-infected grass, the factors of variation of their level in plants, and the diseases observed in the mammalian species as relate to the profiles of alkaloid production. In the final section, interactions between ergot alkaloids and drug-metabolizing enzymes are presented as mechanisms that could contribute to toxicity.

Concepts: Plant, Fungus, Poaceae, Alkaloid, Endophyte, Ergot, Ergoline, Ergotamine


Different group of alkaloids are produced during the symbiotic development of fungal endophytes of the genus Epichloë in grass. The structure and toxicity of the compounds vary considerably in mammalian herbivores and in crop pests. Alkaloids of the indole-diterpene group, of which lolitrem B is the most toxic, were first characterized in endophyte-infected perennial ryegrass, and are responsible for “ryegrass staggers.” Ergot alkaloids, of which ergovaline is the most abundant ergopeptide alkaloid produced, are also found in ryegrass, but generally at a lower rate than lolitrem B. Other alkaloids such as lolines and peramine are toxic for crop pests but have weak toxicological properties in mammals. The purpose of this review is to present indole-diterpene alkaloids produced in endophyte infected ryegrass from the first characterization of ryegrass staggers to the determination of the toxicokinetics of lolitrem B and of their mechanism of action in mammals, focusing on the different factors that could explain the worldwide distribution of the disease. Other indole diterpene alkaloids than lolitrem B that can be found in Epichloë infected ryegrass, and their tremorgenic properties, are presented in the last section of this review.

Concepts: Plant, Fungus, Toxicity, Alkaloid, Endophyte, Ergot, Ergoline, Ergotamine


The ergot alkaloids, a class of fungal-derived natural products with important biological activities, are derived from a common intermediate, chanoclavine-I, which is elaborated into a set of diverse structures. Herein we report the discovery of the biosynthetic pathway of cycloclavine, a complex ergot alkaloid containing a cyclopropyl moiety. We used a yeast-based expression platform along with in vitro biochemical experiments to identify the enzyme that catalyzes a rearrangement of the chanoclavine-I intermediate to form a cyclopropyl moiety. The resulting compound, cycloclavine, was produced in yeast at titers of >500 mg L(-1) , thus demonstrating the feasibility of the heterologous expression of these complex alkaloids.

Concepts: Metabolism, Enzyme, Fungus, Nitrogen, Alkaloid, Ergot, Ergoline, Ergotamine


Allowable limits for cereal ergot alkaloids in livestock feeds are being re-examined, and the objective of this study was to compare nutrient digestibility, growth performance and carcass characteristics of ram lambs fed a range of alkaloid concentrations, including the maximum currently allowed in Canada (2 to 3 ppm). Four pelleted diets were fed: control, with no added alkaloids; 930; 1402; and 2447 ppb alkaloids based on total R and S epimers. Eight ram lambs (30.0 ± 3.1 kg) were used to examine the impacts of dietary treatments on nutrient digestibility and alkaloid recovery from feces. Concentrations of dietary alkaloids evaluated did not affect nutrient digestibility or N metabolism. Excepting ergocornine and ergocryptine, recovery of alkaloids in feces varied among periods, suggesting that individual lambs may differ in their ability to metabolize ergocristine, ergometrine, ergosine, ergotamine and their S epimers. In a second experiment, ram lambs (n = 47, 30 ± 8 kg) were randomly assigned to a diet and weighed weekly until they achieved a slaughter weight of ≥ 45 kg (average 9 weeks; range 6 to 13 weeks). Intake of DM did not differ (p = 0.91) among diets, although lambs fed 2447 ppb alkaloids had a lower (p < 0.01) ADG than did lambs receiving other treatments. The concentration of serum prolactin linearly declined (p < 0.01) with increasing alkaloids. Feeding 2447 ppb total alkaloids negatively impacted growth, while feeding 1402 ppb did not harm growth performance, but reduced carcass dressing percentage. Due to different concentrations of alkaloids affecting growth and carcass characteristics in the present study, determining allowable limits for total dietary alkaloids will require a better understanding of impacts of alkaloid profiles and interactions among individual alkaloids.

Concepts: Nutrition, Concentration, Nitrogen, Alkaloid, Ergot, Parts-per notation, Ergoline, Ergotamine


The clavine alkaloids produced by the fungi of the Aspergillaceae and Arthrodermatacea families differ from the ergot alkaloids produced by Claviceps and Neotyphodium. The clavine alkaloids lack the extensive peptide chain modifications that occur in lysergic acid derived ergot alkaloids. Both clavine and ergot alkaloids arise from the condensation of tryptophan and dimethylallylpyrophosphate by the action of the dimethylallyltryptophan synthase. The first five steps of the biosynthetic pathway that convert tryptophan and dimethylallyl-pyrophosphate (DMA-PP) in chanoclavine-1-aldehyde are common to both clavine and ergot alkaloids. The biosynthesis of ergot alkaloids has been extensively studied and is not considered in this article. We focus this review on recent advances in the gene clusters for clavine alkaloids in the species of Penicillium, Aspergillus (Neosartorya), Arthroderma and Trychophyton and the enzymes encoded by them. The final products of the clavine alkaloids pathways derive from the tetracyclic ergoline ring, which is modified by late enzymes, including a reverse type prenyltransferase, P450 monooxygenases and acetyltransferases. In Aspergillus japonicus, a α-ketoglutarate and Fe2+-dependent dioxygenase is involved in the cyclization of a festuclavine-like unknown type intermediate into cycloclavine. Related dioxygenases occur in the biosynthetic gene clusters of ergot alkaloids in Claviceps purpurea and also in the clavine clusters in Penicillium species. The final products of the clavine alkaloid pathway in these fungi differ from each other depending on the late biosynthetic enzymes involved. An important difference between clavine and ergot alkaloid pathways is that clavine producers lack the enzyme CloA, a P450 monooxygenase, involved in one of the steps of the conversion of chanoclavine-1-aldehyde into lysergic acid. Bioinformatic analysis of the sequenced genomes of the Aspergillaceae and Arthrodermataceae fungi showed the presence of clavine gene clusters in Arthroderma species, Penicillium roqueforti, Penicillium commune, Penicillium camemberti, Penicillium expansum, Penicillium steckii and Penicillium griseofulvum. Analysis of the gene clusters in several clavine alkaloid producers indicates that there are gene gains, gene losses and gene rearrangements. These findings may be explained by a divergent evolution of the gene clusters of ergot and clavine alkaloids from a common ancestral progenitor six genes cluster although horizontal gene transfer of some specific genes may have occurred more recently.

Concepts: Fungus, Ascomycota, Penicillium, Alkaloid, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Ergoline, Ergotamine


Biomimetic total syntheses of either enantiomers of a number of ergot alkaloids, chanoclavine I (1b), chanoclavine I aldehyde (1c), pyroclavine (1e), festuclavine (1f), pibocin A (1g), 9-deacetoxyfumigaclavine C (1h), and fumigaclavine G (1i), have been achieved from seco-agroclavine (1a). The advanced intermediate for seco-agroclavine (1a) was synthesized via a key thiourea-catalyzed intramolecular nitronate addition onto α,β-unsaturated ester.

Concepts: Chemical synthesis, Real number, Alkaloid, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Ergoline, Ergotamine, Ergotism


Limited availability of toxin standards for lolitrem B and ergovaline impedes routine control of grasses for endophyte toxins. This study aimed at assessing the applicability of an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for the indole-diterpene mycotoxin paxilline, in combination with a generic EIA for ergot alkaloids, as alternative parameters for screening purposes. Analysis of grass seeds and model pastures of four different grass species showed that both EIAs yielded highly positive results for paxilline and ergot alkaloids in perennial ryegrass seeds. Furthermore, evidence for natural occurrence of paxilline in grass in Germany was obtained. HPLC-MS/MS analysis qualitatively confirmed the paxilline EIA results but showed that paxilline analogs 1´-O-acetylpaxilline and 13-desoxypaxilline were the predominant compounds in seeds and grass. In the absence of easily accessible reference standards for specific analysis of some major endophyte toxins, analysis of paxilline and ergot alkaloids by EIA may be suitable substitute parameters. The major advantage of this approach is its ease of use and speed, providing an analytical tool which could enhance routine screening for endophyte toxins in pasture.

Concepts: Plant, Fungus, Poaceae, Rye, Alkaloid, Ergot, Ergoline, Ergotamine