The reconstruction of neuronal networks in the damaged brain is necessary for the therapeutic treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. We have screened the neurite outgrowth activity of herbal drugs, and identified several active constituents. In each compound, neurite outgrowth activity was investigated under amyloid-beta-induced neuritic atrophy. Most of the compounds with neurite regenerative activity also demonstrated memory improvement activity in Alzheimer's disease-model mice. Protopanaxadiol-type saponins in Ginseng drugs and their metabolite, M1 (20-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-(20S)-protopanaxadiol), showed potent regeneration activity for axons and synapses, and amelioration of memory impairment. Withanolide derivatives (withanolide A, withanoside IV, and withanoside VI) isolated from the Indian herbal drug Ashwagandha, also showed neurite extension in normal and damaged cortical neurons. Trigonelline, a constituent of coffee beans, demonstrated the regeneration of dendrites and axons, in addition to memory improvement.
2005 S. Karger AG, Basel