The goal of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs) used to treat Alzheimer's patients is an improvement in cholinergic transmission. While currently available AChEIs have limited success, a huge impediment to the development of newer ones is access to the relevant brain areas. Promnesic, anti-amnesic and AChEI properties were identified in a standardized ethanol extract from Ptychopetalum olacoides (POEE), a medicinal plant favored by the elderly in Amazon communities. The purpose of this study was to provide conclusive evidence that orally given POEE induces AChE inhibition in brain areas relevant to cognition. Histochemistry experiments confirmed that the anticholinesterase compound(s) present in POEE are orally bioavailable, inducing meaningful AChE inhibition in the hippocampus CA1 (∼33%) and CA3 (∼20%), and striatum (∼17%). Ellman's colorimetric analysis revealed that G1 and G4 AChE isoforms activities were markedly inhibited (66 and 72%, respectively) in hippocampus and frontal cortex (50 and 63%, respectively), while G4 appeared to be selectively inhibited (72%) in the striatum. Western blotting showed that POEE did not induce significant changes in the AChE immunocontent suggesting that its synthesis is not extensively modified. This study provides definitive proof of meaningful anticholinesterase activity compatible with the observed promnesic and anti-amnesic effects of POEE in mice, reaffirming the potential of this extract for treating neurodegenerative conditions where a hypofunctioning cholinergic neurotransmission is prominent. Adequate assessment of the safety and efficacy of this extract and/or its isolated active compound(s) are warranted.
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