The neuroprotective properties of the Ginkgo biloba leaf: a review of the possible relationship to platelet-activating factor (PAF)

J Ethnopharmacol. 1996 Mar;50(3):131-9. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(96)01379-7.


Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgoaceae) is an ancient Chinese tree which has been cultivated and held sacred for its health-promoting properties. There is substantial experimental evidence to support the view that Ginkgo biloba extracts have neuroprotective properties under conditions such as hypoxia/ischemia, seizure activity and peripheral nerve damage. Research on the biochemical effects of Ginkgo biloba extracts is still at a very early stage. One of the components of Ginkgo biloba, ginkgolide B, is a potent platelet-activating factor (PAF) antagonist. Although the terpene fraction of Ginkgo biloba, which contains the ginkgolides, may contribute to the neuroprotective properties of the Ginkgo biloba leaf, it is also likely that the flavonoid fraction, containing free radical scavengers, is important in this respect. Taken together, the evidence suggests that Ginkgo biloba extracts are worthy of further investigation as potential neuroprotectant agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / drug effects
  • Dementia / drug therapy
  • Diterpenes*
  • Free Radical Scavengers / pharmacology*
  • Free Radical Scavengers / therapeutic use
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Ginkgolides
  • Humans
  • Lactones / metabolism
  • Lactones / pharmacology*
  • Lactones / therapeutic use
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Platelet Activating Factor / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Trees


  • Diterpenes
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Ginkgolides
  • Lactones
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Platelet Activating Factor
  • Ginkgo biloba extract
  • ginkgolide B