Mechanistic role of boswellic acids in Alzheimer's disease: Emphasis on anti-inflammatory properties

Biomed Pharmacother. 2021 Dec:144:112250. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2021.112250. Epub 2021 Oct 1.


The resin/gum of Boswellia species belonging to the family of Burseraceae is a naturally occurring mixture of bioactive compounds, which was traditionally used as a folk medicine to treat conditions like chronic inflammation. Several research studies have also explored its' therapeutic potential against multiple neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). The main chemical constituents of this gum include boswellic acids (BAs) like 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-β boswellic acid (AKBA) that possess potent anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties in AD. It is also involved in inhibiting the acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in the cholinergic pathway and improve choline levels as well as its binding with nicotinic receptors to produce anti-inflammatory effects. Multiple shreds of evidence have demonstrated that BAs modulate key molecular targets and signalling pathways like 5-lipoxygenase/cyclooxygenase, Nrf2, NF-kB, cholinergic, amyloid-beta (Aβ), and neurofibrillary tangles formation (NFTs) that are involved in AD progression. The present review focuses on the possible mechanistic therapeutic role of BAs in modulating the 5-LOX/COX pathway in arachidonic acid metabolism, activating Nrf2 through binding of ARE, inhibiting NF-kB and AChE activity. In addition, an inhibition of amyloid plaques (Aβ) and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) induced neurotoxicity and neuroinflammation in AD by BAs is also discussed in this review. We have also highlighted that BAs possess beneficial effects in AD by targeting multiple molecular pathways and makes it an emerging drug candidate for treating neurodegenerative diseases.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Boswellic acids; Inflammatory mediators; Neuroinflammation; Signalling pathways.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Nerve Degeneration*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Plaque, Amyloid
  • Signal Transduction
  • Triterpenes / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Triterpenes
  • boswellic acid