Natural products as a rich source of tau-targeting drugs for Alzheimer's disease

Future Med Chem. 2012 Sep;4(13):1751-61. doi: 10.4155/fmc.12.124.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder and the most common form of dementia, affecting more than 5.4 million people in the USA. Although the cause of AD is not well understood, the cholinergic, amyloid and tau hypotheses were proposed to explain its development. Drug discovery for AD based on the cholinergic and amyloid theories have not been effective. In this article we summarize tau-based natural products as AD therapeutics from a variety of biological sources, including the anti-amyloid agent curcumin, isolated from turmeric, the microtubule stabilizer paclitaxel, from the Pacific Yew Taxus brevifolia, and the Streptomyces-derived Hsp90 inhibitor, geldanamycin. The overlooked approach of clearing tau aggregation will most likely be the next objective for AD drug discovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biological Products / chemistry
  • Biological Products / pharmacology*
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Humans
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • Biological Products
  • tau Proteins