Metabolic Factors and Adult Neurogenesis: Impacts of Chinese Herbal Medicine on Brain Repair in Neurological Diseases

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2017;135:117-147. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2017.02.007. Epub 2017 Apr 7.


Adult neurogenesis plays the important roles in animal cognitive and emotional behaviors. Abnormal proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells (NSCs) usually associate with the neural dysfunctions induced by different brain disorders. Therefore, targeting neurogenic factors could be a promoting strategy for neural regeneration and brain repair. Importantly, epidemiological studies suggest metabolism disorders like diabetes and obesity significantly increase the risk of neurological and psychiatric diseases. A large number of studies indicate that metabolic factors could serve as the modulators to adult neurogenesis, providing the potentials of metabolic factors to regulate NSCs growth and neural regeneration therapy. This chapter reviews the current studies on the roles of metabolic factors in modulating adult neurogenesis and evaluates the potentials of Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) for the treatment of neurological or psychiatric disorders by targeting the metabolic factors. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) including CHM and acupuncture is now widely applied for the treatment of metabolic diseases, and neurological diseases in Asia, because its' therapeutic principles meet the multiple targets and complexity characteristics of most neurological disorders. Different studies indicate that there are many active compounds perform the regulations to metabolic factors and promoting neurogenesis. This chapter systematically summarizes the current progress and understanding of the active compounds and their underlying mechanisms of CHM formulas for promoting neurogenesis. Many CHM formulas and their active ingredients that originally used for metabolic disorders show the promising effects on mediating neurogenesis and brain repair for the treatments of neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, further investigations about the relationship between neurogenesis and metabolic regulations of CHM will bring new insights into understanding the mechanisms of adult neurogenesis and provide great opportunities to develop new therapeutic strategies for neurological diseases. Those studies will provide scientific guidance to develop the drugs from TCM resource.

Keywords: Chinese herbal medicine; Diabetes; Mental disorder; Metabolism; Network pharmacology; Neural stem cells; Neurogenesis; Neurological diseases; Obesity; Traditional Chinese medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / methods*
  • Metabolic Diseases / therapy*
  • Nerve Regeneration / drug effects
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases* / complications
  • Nervous System Diseases* / metabolism
  • Nervous System Diseases* / therapy


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal