Demecolcine is an alkaloid that is derived from Colchicum autumnale (commonly known as autumn crocus plant). It is used in cytogenetics laboratory, particularly in chromosome analysis. It is capable of arresting cells in mid-metaphase of cell division.
Chemically, it is similar to colchicine. The difference between demecolcine and colchicine is the presence of methyl group rather than the acetyl group on the amino moiety. Demecolcine is also less toxic than colchicine. Nevertheless, both demecolcine and colchicine exert similar effect on mitosis. Demecolcine is capable of depolymerizing microtubules. In cytologenetics laboratory, it is used to arrest cells in metaphase, and allow cell harvest for karyotyping. The longer the cells are exposed to demecolcine the more cells arrested in metaphase may be collected. 2
Demecolcine is also used as a pharmacological agent in chemotherapy. It improves the efficacy of cancer radiotheraphy in such a way that it synchronizes tumor cells at metaphase, which is a radiosensitive stage of the cell cycle.1
IUPAC name: (S)-1,2,3,10-Tetramethoxy-7-methylamino-6,7-dihydro-5H-benzo[a]heptalen-9-one
Molecular formula: C21H25NO5 Synonym(s):
2Gersen, M. and Keagle, M. (2013). The principles of clinical cytogenetics. N.Y.: Springer Science & Business Media.