Neuroprotective effects of huperzine A: new therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative disease

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2006 Dec;27(12):619-25. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2006 Oct 23.


In recent years, the most common pharmacological treatment for Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition. However, this single-target approach has limited effectiveness and there is evidence that a multitarget approach might be more effective. Huperzine A (HupA), a novel alkaloid isolated from a Chinese herb, has neuroprotective effects that go beyond the inhibition of AChE. Recent data have demonstrated that HupA can ameliorate the learning and memory deficiency in animal models and AD patients. Its potentially beneficial actions include modification of beta-amyloid peptide processing, reduction of oxidative stress, neuronal protection against apoptosis, and regulation of the expression and secretion of nerve growth factor (NGF) and NGF signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / adverse effects
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Sesquiterpenes / therapeutic use*


  • Alkaloids
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • huperzine A