Betulinic acid, derived from the desert lavender Hyptis emoryi, attenuates paclitaxel-, HIV-, and nerve injury-associated peripheral sensory neuropathy via block of N- and T-type calcium channels

Shreya S BellampalliRajesh Khanna


The Federal Pain Research Strategy recommended development of nonopioid analgesics as a top priority in its strategic plan to address the significant public health crisis and individual burden of chronic pain faced by >100 million Americans. Motivated by this challenge, a natural product extracts library was screened and identified a plant extract that targets activity of voltage-gated calcium channels. This profile is of interest as a potential treatment for neuropathic pain. The active extract derived from the desert lavender plant native to southwestern United States, when subjected to bioassay-guided fractionation, afforded 3 compounds identified as pentacyclic triterpenoids, betulinic acid (BA), oleanolic acid, and ursolic acid. Betulinic acid inhibited depolarization-evoked calcium influx in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons predominantly through targeting low-voltage-gated (Cav3 or T-type) and CaV2.2 (N-type) calcium channels. Voltage-clamp electrophysiology experiments revealed a reduction of Ca, but not Na, currents in sensory neurons after BA exposure. Betulinic acid inhibited spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents and depolarization-evoked release of calcitonin gene-related peptide from lumbar spinal cord slic...Continue Reading


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