Isolation and Characterisation of Quercitrin as a Potent Anti-Sickle Cell Anaemia Agent from Alchornea cordifolia

Olayemi Adeniyi, Rafael Baptista, Sumana Bhowmick, Alan Cookson, Robert J. Nash, Ana Winters, Jianying Shen*, Luis A.J. Mur

*Corresponding author for this work

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Alchornea cordifolia Müll. Arg. (commonly known as Christmas Bush) has been used tradi-tionally in Africa to treat sickle cell anaemia (a recessive disease, arising from the S haemoglobin (Hb) allele), but the active compounds are yet to be identified. Herein, we describe the use of se-quential fractionation coupled with in vitro anti-sickling assays to purify the active component. Sickling was induced in HbSS genotype blood samples using sodium metabisulphite (Na2S2O5) or through incubation in 100% N2. Methanol extracts of A. cordifolia leaves and its sub-fractions showed >70% suppression of HbSS erythrocyte sickling. The purified compound demonstrated a 87.2 ± 2.39% significant anti-sickling activity and 93.1 ± 2.69% erythrocyte sickling-inhibition at 0.4 mg/mL. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra and high-resolution mass spectroscopy identified it as quercitrin (quercetin 3-rhamnoside). Purified quercitrin also inhibited the polymerisation of isolated HbS and stabilized sickle erythrocytes membranes. Metabolomic comparisons of blood samples using flow-infusion electrospray-high resolution mass spectrometry indicated that quercitrin could convert HbSS erythrocyte metabolomes to be like HbAA. Sickling was associated with changes in antioxidants, anaerobic bioenergy, and arachidonic acid metabolism, all of which were reversed by quercitrin. The findings described could inform efforts directed to the development of an anti-sickling drug or quality control assessments of A. cordifolia preparations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2177
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2022


  • Alchornea cordifolia
  • quercitrin
  • sickle cell anaemia
  • sickling metabolomics


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