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Castanospermine inhibits alpha-glucosidase activities and alters glycogen distribution in animals

Saul, R., Ghidoni, J.J., Molyneux, R.J., Elbein, A.D.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 1985 v.82 no.1 pp. 93
Fabaceae, seeds, chemical analysis, alkaloids, toxicity, rats, Castanospermum australe
Castanospermine, an inhibitor of alpha-glucosidase activity, was injected into rats to determine its effects in vivo. Daily injections of alkaloid, at levels of 0.5 mg/g of body weight, or higher, for 3 days decreased hepatic alpha-glucosidase to 40% of control values, whereas alpha-glucosidase in brain was reduced to 25% of control values and that in spleen and kidney was reduced to about 40%. In liver, both the neutral (pH 6.5) and the acidic (pH 4.5) alpha-glucosidase activities were inhibited, but the former was more susceptible. On the other hand, beta-N-acetylhexosaminidase activity was elevated in the livers of treated animals, whereas beta-galactosidase activity was unchanged and alpha-mannosidase activity was somewhat inhibited. Livers of treated animals were examined by light and electron microscopy and compared to control animals to determine whether changes in morphology had occurred. In treated animals fed normal rat chow, the hepatocytes were smaller in size and simplified in structure, whereas the high-glucose diet lessened these alterations. Furthermore, in those animals receiving castanospermine at 1.0 mg or higher per g of body weight for 3 days, there was a marked decrease in the amount of glycogen in the cytoplasm, while a large number of lysosomes were observed that were full of dense, granular material. That this dense material was indeed glycogen was shown by the fact that it disappeared when blocks of fixed tissue were pretreated with alpha-amylase. Glycogen levels in liver, as measured either colorimetrically or enzymatically, were somewhat depressed at the higher levels of castanospermine.