Cyclopamine Bioactivity by Extraction Method from Veratrum californicum

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Veratrum californicum, commonly referred to as corn lily or Californian false hellebore, grows in high mountain meadows and produces the steroidal alkaloid cyclopamine, a potent inhibitor of the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway. The Hh pathway is a crucial regulator of many fundamental processes during vertebrate embryonic development. However, constitutive activation of the Hh pathway contributes to the progression of various cancers. In the present study, a direct correlation was made between the extraction efficiency for cyclopamine from root and rhizome by eight methods, and the associated biological activity in Shh-Light II cells using the Dual-Glo® Luciferase Assay System. Alkaloid recovery ranged from 0.39 to 8.03 mg/g, with ethanol soak being determined to be the superior method for obtaining biologically active cyclopamine. Acidic ethanol and supercritical extractions yielded degraded or contaminated cyclopamine with lower antagonistic activity towards Hh signaling.