Withanamides in Withania somnifera fruit protect PC-12 cells from beta-amyloid responsible for Alzheimer's disease

Phytother Res. 2010 Jun;24(6):859-63. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3033.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an irreversible neurodegenerative disorder with symptoms of confusion, memory loss, and mood swings. The beta-amyloid peptide, with 39-42 amino acid residues (BAP), plays a significant role in the development of AD. Although there is no cure for AD, it can be managed with available drugs to some degree. Several studies have revealed that natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene, may help in scavenging free radicals generated during the initiation and progression of this disease. Therefore, there has been considerable interest in plant phytochemicals with antioxidant property as potential agents to prevent the progression of AD. Our earlier investigations of the Withania somnifera fruit afforded lipid peroxidation inhibitory withanamides that are more potent than the commercial antioxidants. In this study, we have tested two major withanamides A (WA) and C (WC) for their ability to protect the PC-12 cells, rat neuronal cells, from beta-amyloid induced cell damage. The cell death caused by beta-amyloid was negated by withanamide treatment. Molecular modeling studies showed that withanamides A and C uniquely bind to the active motif of beta-amyloid (25-35) and suggest that withanamides have the ability to prevent the fibril formation. Further understanding of the mechanism of action and in vivo efficacy of these withanamides may facilitate its development as a prophylaxis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control*
  • Amides / isolation & purification
  • Amides / pharmacology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Cell Survival
  • Disaccharides / isolation & purification
  • Disaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Indoles / isolation & purification
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • PC12 Cells
  • Peptide Fragments / adverse effects*
  • Rats
  • Withania / chemistry*


  • Amides
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Disaccharides
  • Indoles
  • Peptide Fragments
  • amyloid beta-protein (25-35)
  • withanamide A
  • withanamide C