The Dietary Components Carnosic Acid and Carnosol as Neuroprotective Agents: a Mechanistic View

Mol Neurobiol. 2016 Nov;53(9):6155-6168. doi: 10.1007/s12035-015-9519-1. Epub 2015 Nov 9.


Carnosic acid (CA) and carnosol are the major diterpenes found in Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary), a culinary spice. CA and carnosol account for over 90 % of its anti-oxidant activity in rosemary leaves. The diterpenes exert anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic activities, and present neuroprotective effects in both in vitro and in vivo experimental models. In some cases, CA exerted protective effects upon neuronal cells more intensely than resveratrol or sulforaphane. Therefore, CA and carnosol demonstrate a potential pharmacological role for rosemary diterpenes in ameliorating mammalian brain redox status, among other parameters, as for instance the modulation of neuroinflammation. The aim of this review is to discuss the biological effects of CA and carnosol on neuronal and glial cells with focus on the mechanism of action of such diterpenes.

Keywords: Brain; Carnosic acid; Carnosol; Glia; Neuron.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abietanes / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*


  • Abietanes
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • carnosol
  • salvin