Sanguinarine is a toxic alkaloid extracted from some plants, including Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Mexican Prickly Poppy Argemone mexicana, Chelidonium majus and Macleaya cordata.
Sanguinarine kills animal cells through its action on the Na+-K+-ATPase transmembrane protein. Epidemic dropsy is a disease that results from ingesting sanguinarine.
If applied to the skin, sanguinarine kills cells and may destroy tissue. In turn, the bleeding wound may produce a massive scab, called an Eschar. For this reason, sanguinarine is termed an escharotic.
In plants, sanguinarine is synthesized from dihydrosanguinarine through the action of Dihydrobenzophenanthridine oxidase (EC 184.108.40.206).
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