Xanthine Alkaloids

Xanthine alkaloids (xanthines) are purine bases found in body tissues and fluids and in some plants. They are probably the most widely known and used alkaloids, being constituents of popular daily beverages tea and coffee.

Xanthine alkaloids include:

  • Caffeine
  • Theobromine
    • Pentoxifylline
  • Theophylline
    • Aminophylline
    • Dimenhydrinate
    • Dyphylline
    • 1-Methyl-3-isobutylxanthine
    • Xanthinol Niacinate
  • Uric Acid
  • Xanthine

    Xanthine alkaloid is a purine base found in most body tissues and fluids, certain plants, and some urinary calculi. It is an intermediate in the degradation of adenosine monophosphate (AMP) to uric acid, being formed by oxidation of hypoxanthine.

    Caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine alkaloids are methylated xanthine derivatives; they differ only in the number and position of methyl substituents around the xanthine ring system. Caffeine alkaloid is a CNS stimulant. It is also a diuretic and is used in combination with analgesics. Theophylline and theobromine are minor alkaloids of tea; theobromine also occurs in cocoa. Caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline and their derivatives are used in medicine for their bronchodilator effects.1

    Uric acid is an oxidation product, via xanthine oxidase enzyme, of xanthine and hypoxanthine. It is the final oxidation product of catabolism of purines which originate from food. A decrease in pH, as it occurs in inflammed tissues, facilitates the formation of uric acid crystals, which are the initial cause of gout.

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