Saffron as a Source of Novel Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors: Molecular Docking and in Vitro Enzymatic Studies
Inhibitors of acetylcholine breakdown by acetylcholinesterase (AChE) constitute the main therapeutic modality for Alzheimer’s disease. In the search for natural products with inhibitory action on AChE, this study investigated the activity of saffron extract and its constituents by in vitro enzymatic and molecular docking studies.
Saffron has been used in traditional medicine against Alzheimer’s disease.
Saffron extract showed moderate AChE inhibitory activity (up to 30%), but IC(50) values of crocetin, dimethylcrocetin, and safranal were 96.33, 107.1, and 21.09 μM, respectively.
Kinetic analysis showed mixed-type inhibition, which was verified by in silico docking studies.
Safranal interacts only with the binding site of the AChE, but crocetin and dimethylcrocetin bind simultaneously to the catalytic and peripheral anionic sites.
These results reinforce previous findings about the beneficial action of saffron against Alzheimer’s disease and may be of value for the development of novel therapeutic agents based on carotenoid-based dual binding inhibitors.