Neural protection by naturopathic compounds—an example of tetramethylpyrazine from retina to brain

Par zhiqun Tan

These results suggest a promising prospect for TMP to be used as a treatment of specific neurodegenerative diseases.

Abstract Given the advantages of being stable in the ambient environment, being permeable to the blood–brain and/or blood–eye barriers and being convenient for administration, naturopathic compounds have growingly become promising therapeutic candidates for neural protection. Extracted from one of the most common Chinese herbal medicines, tetramethylpyrazine (TMP), also designated as ligustrazine, has been suggested to be neuroprotective in the central nervous system as well as the peripheral nerve network. Although the detailed molecular mechanisms of its efficacy for neural protection are understood limitedly, accumulating evidence suggests that antioxidative stress, antagonism for calcium, and suppression of pro-inflammatory factors contribute significantly to its neuroprotection. In animal studies, systemic administration of TMP (subcutaneous injection, 50 mg/kg) significantly blocked neuronal degeneration in hippocampus as well as the other vulnerable regions in brains of Sprague–Dawley rats following kainate-induced prolonged seizures. Results from us and others also demonstrated potent neuroprotective efficacy of TMP for retinal cells and robust benefits for brain in Alzheimer’s disease or other brain injury. Given the assessment of the distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity information that is already available on most neuroprotective naturopathic compounds such as TMP, it would not take much preclinical data to justify bringing such therapeutic compounds to clinical trials in humans.

Department of Neurology, University of California Irvine School of Medicine, ZOT 4275, 100 Irvine Hall, Irvine, CA 92697, USA

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