The Amazon rain forest plant Uncaria tomentosa (cat's claw) and its specific proanthocyanidin constituents are potent inhibitors and reducers of both brain plaques and tangles

Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 6;9(1):561. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-38645-0.


Brain aging and Alzheimer's disease both demonstrate the accumulation of beta-amyloid protein containing "plaques" and tau protein containing "tangles" that contribute to accelerated memory loss and cognitive decline. In the present investigation we identified a specific plant extract and its constituents as a potential alternative natural solution for preventing and reducing both brain "plaques and tangles". PTI-00703 cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa from a specific Peruvian source), a specific and natural plant extract from the Amazon rain forest, was identified as a potent inhibitor and reducer of both beta-amyloid fibrils (the main component of "plaques") and tau protein paired helical filaments/fibrils (the main component of "tangles"). PTI-00703 cat's claw demonstrated both the ability to prevent formation/aggregation and disaggregate preformed Aβ fibrils (1-42 and 1-40) and tau protein tangles/filaments. The disaggregation/dissolution of Aβ fibrils occurred nearly instantly when PTI-00703 cat's claw and Aβ fibrils were mixed together as shown by a variety of methods including Thioflavin T fluorometry, Congo red staining, Thioflavin S fluorescence and electron microscopy. Sophisticated structural elucidation studies identified the major fractions and specific constituents within PTI-00703 cat's claw responsible for both the observed "plaque" and "tangle" inhibitory and reducing activity. Specific proanthocyanidins (i.e. epicatechin dimers and variants thereof) are newly identified polyphenolic components within Uncaria tomentosa that possess both "plaque and tangle" reducing and inhibitory activity. One major identified specific polyphenol within PTI-00703 cat's claw was epicatechin-4β-8-epicatechin (i.e. an epicatechin dimer known as proanthocyanidin B2) that markedly reduced brain plaque load and improved short-term memory in younger and older APP "plaque-producing" (TASD-41) transgenic mice (bearing London and Swedish mutations). Proanthocyanidin B2 was also a potent inhibitor of brain inflammation as shown by reduction in astrocytosis and gliosis in TASD-41 transgenic mice. Blood-brain-barrier studies in Sprague-Dawley rats and CD-1 mice indicated that the major components of PTI-00703 cat's claw crossed the blood-brain-barrier and entered the brain parenchyma within 2 minutes of being in the blood. The discovery of a natural plant extract from the Amazon rain forest plant (i.e. Uncaria tomentosa or cat's claw) as both a potent "plaque and tangle" inhibitor and disaggregator is postulated to represent a potential breakthrough for the natural treatment of both normal brain aging and Alzheimer's disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cat's Claw / metabolism
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / metabolism*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plaque, Amyloid / drug therapy*
  • Proanthocyanidins / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Amyloid
  • Plant Extracts
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • tau Proteins
  • proanthocyanidin