Cilantro leaf harbors a potent potassium channel-activating anticonvulsant

Rian Manville, Geoffrey Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Herbs have a long history of use as folk medicine anticonvulsants, yet the underlying mechanisms often remain unknown. Neuronal voltage-gated potassium channel subfamily Q (KCNQ) dysfunction can cause severe epileptic encephalopathies that are resistant to modern anticonvulsants. Here we report that cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), a widely used culinary herb that also exhibits antiepileptic and other therapeutic activities, is a highly potent KCNQ channel activator. Screening of cilantro leaf metabolites revealed that one, the long-chain fatty aldehyde (E)-2-dodecenal, activates multiple KCNQs, including the predominant neuronal isoform, KCNQ2/KCNQ3 [half maximal effective concentration (EC50), 60 ± 20 nM], and the predominant cardiac isoform, KCNQ1 in complexes with the type I transmembrane ancillary subunit (KCNE1) (EC50, 260 ± 100 nM). (E)-2-dodecenal also recapitulated the anticonvulsant action of cilantro, delaying pentylene tetrazole-induced seizures. In silico docking and mutagenesis studies identified the (E)-2-dodecenal binding site, juxtaposed between residues on the KCNQ S5 transmembrane segment and S4-5 linker. The results provide a molecular basis for the therapeutic actions of cilantro and indicate that this ubiquitous culinary herb is surprisingly influential upon clinically important KCNQ channels.-Manville, R. W., Abbott, G. W. Cilantro leaf harbors a potent potassium channel-activating anticonvulsant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11349-11363
Number of pages15
JournalThe FASEB Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2019


  • KCNQ1
  • KCNQ2
  • KCNQ3
  • epilepsy
  • herbal medicine


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