Signal pathways in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease with traditional Chinese medicine

Biomed Pharmacother. 2022 Aug;152:113208. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2022.113208. Epub 2022 May 31.


Aim of the review: This study aimed to reveal the classical signal pathways and important potential targets of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for treating Alzheimer's disease (AD), and provide support for further investigation on TCM and its active ingredients.

Materials and methods: Literature survey was conducted using PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar, CNKI, and other databases, with "Alzheimer's disease," "traditional Chinese medicine," "medicinal herb," "Chinese herb," and "natural plant" as the primary keywords.

Results: TCM could modulate signal pathways related to AD pathological progression, including NF-κB, Nrf2, JAK/STAT, ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, autophagy-lysosome pathway-related AMPK/mTOR, GSK-3/mTOR, and PI3K/Akt/mTOR, as well as SIRT1 and PPARα pathway. It could regulate crosstalk between pathways through a multitarget, thus maintaining chronic inflammatory interaction balance, inhibiting oxidative stress damage, regulating ubiquitin-proteasome system function, modulating autophagy, and eventually improving cognitive impairment in patients with AD.

Conclusion: TCM could be multilevel, multitargeted, and multifaceted to prevent and treat AD. In-depth research on the prevention and treatment of AD with TCM could provide new ideas for exploring the pathogenesis of AD and developing new anti-AD drugs.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Mechanism; Signal pathway; Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / drug therapy
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / pharmacology
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / therapeutic use
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • Signal Transduction
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Ubiquitins


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Ubiquitins
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex