The Natural Abundance of L

The Natural Abundance Of L-Canavanine, An Active Anticancer Agent, in Alfalfa, Medicago Sativa

(L.)Pharmaceutical Biology
2000, Vol.38, No.1, pp. 001-006

Gerald A. Rosenthal and Palesa Nkomo

University of Kentucky, Laboratory of Biochemical Ecology, Lexington, USA

L-Canavanine, a potentially toxic antimetabolite of L-arginine that is stored by many leguminous plants, has demonstrative antineoplastic activity against a number of animal-bearing carcinomas and cancer cell lines. This investigation evaluated the natural abundance of this anti-cancer compound in commercially available sprouts, and in ten varieties of the seed of alfalfa, Medicago Sativa (L.). Canavanine abundance in commercially grown sprouts varied according to the source; the young plant stored appreciable canavanine that ranged from 1.3 to2.4% of the dry matter. Alfalfa seeds were also rich in this nonprotein amino acid as the canavanine content varied from 1.4 to 1.8% of the dry matter. On average,the tested seeds contained 1.54 ± 0.03% canavanine. Alfalfa seed canavanine content was comparable to the levels found in the seeds of representative members of the genus Canavalia, which are amongst the more abundance sources of this antimetaboli te.