Seventeen monoterpene indole alkaloids, including seven new alkaloids (1-7) and ten known analogues (8-17), were isolated and identified from the leaves of R. vomitoria. The structures of new alkaloids were elucidated by extensive spectroscopic analysis and single-crystal X-ray diffraction analysis. Rauvomitorine I (1) represents the first example of an unprecedented C yohimbine-type monoterpene indole alkaloid featuring a carboxymethyl at C-14. The exceedingly rare vobasenal (2-3) and affinisine oxindole (5-6) framework type alkaloids are first reported from the Rauvolfia genus. Most notably, the structure of vobasenal-type alkaloids (2-3) were first determined by single-crystal X-ray diffraction analyses. Alkaloids 1-17 were tested their cytotoxicity against five cancer cell lines, however, none of them showed significant cytotoxicity at a concentration of 40 μM. All the isolated alkaloids were evaluated their acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitory activities. Alkaloid 3 exhibited significant anti-AChE activity with an IC value of 16.39 ± 1.41 μM and alkaloids 8 and 10 showed moderate anti-AChE activities whereas the others (2, 9, 13, and 17) were weak inhibitors. This is the first report of vobasenal-type alkaloids as AChE inhibitors, indicating this type of alkaloids may be important sources for the discovery of new AChE inhibitors. A preliminary structure-activity relationship for AChE inhibitory activities showed the presence of the N-methyl group in vobasenal-type alkaloids may be essential for anti-AChE activity. Further molecular docking studies of vobasenal-type alkaloids revealed that interaction with Trp133 and Trp86 residues at hydrophobic subsite are necessary for the AChE inhibitory activities. This study not only enriches the chemical diversity of alkaloids in Apocynaceae plants but also provides new potential leading compounds and versatile scaffolds for the design and development of new AChE inhibitors to treat AD.
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