Application and prospects of butylphthalide for the treatment of neurologic diseases

Chin Med J (Engl). 2019 Jun 20;132(12):1467-1477. doi: 10.1097/CM9.0000000000000289.


Objective: The 3-N-butylphthalide (NBP) comprises one of the chemical constituents of celery oil. It has a series of pharmacologic mechanisms including reconstructing microcirculation, protecting mitochondrial function, inhibiting oxidative stress, inhibiting neuronal apoptosis, etc. Based on the complex multi-targets of pharmacologic mechanisms of NBP, the clinical application of NBP is increasing and more clinical researches and animal experiments are also focused on NBP. The aim of this review was to comprehensively and systematically summarize the application of NBP on neurologic diseases and briefly summarize its application to non-neurologic diseases. Moreover, recent progress in experimental models of NBP on animals was summarized.

Data sources: Literature was collected from PubMed and Wangfang database until November 2018, using the search terms including "3-N-butylphthalide," "microcirculation," "mitochondria," "ischemic stroke," "Alzheimer disease," "vascular dementia," "Parkinson disease," "brain edema," "CO poisoning," "traumatic central nervous system injury," "autoimmune disease," "amyotrophic lateral sclerosis," "seizures," "diabetes," "diabetic cataract," and "atherosclerosis."

Study selection: Literature was mainly derived from English articles or articles that could be obtained with English abstracts and partly derived from Chinese articles. Article type was not limited. References were also identified from the bibliographies of identified articles and the authors' files.

Results: NBP has become an important adjunct for ischemic stroke. In vascular dementia, the clinical application of NBP to treat severe cognitive dysfunction syndrome caused by the hypoperfusion of brain tissue during cerebrovascular disease is also increasing. Evidence also suggests that NBP has a therapeutic effect for neurodegenerative diseases. Many animal experiments have found that it can also improve symptoms in other neurologic diseases such as epilepsy, cerebral edema, and decreased cognitive function caused by severe acute carbon monoxide poisoning. Moreover, NBP has therapeutic effects for diabetes, diabetes-induced cataracts, and non-neurologic diseases such as atherosclerosis. Mechanistically, NBP mainly improves microcirculation and protects mitochondria. Its broad pharmacologic effects also include inhibiting oxidative stress, nerve cell apoptosis, inflammatory responses, and anti-platelet and anti-thrombotic effects.

Conclusions: The varied pharmacologic mechanisms of NBP involve many complex molecular mechanisms; however, there many unknown pharmacologic effects await further study.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzofurans / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects


  • Benzofurans
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • 3-n-butylphthalide