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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Herbal Polygala tenuifolia and Alzheimer's disease

Posted by Chantel Martiromo 

Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder correlated with major reductions of neurons to the respective target areas and named after German physician Alois Alzheimer. Alzheimer's destroys brain cells, causing cognitive modalities severe enough to affect language communication, memory, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer's gets worse over time, and it is fatal. 
According to statistic, over 25 million people in the world today are affected by dementia and most are suffering from Alzheimer's disease. It may be results of  cigarette smoking, midlife high blood pressure and obesity, diabetes, and cerebrovascular lesions) and the possible beneficial roles of psychosocial factors (eg, high education, active social engagement, physical exercise, and mentally stimulating activity)(1) Strong evidences emerged in epidemiological studies suggested that certain herbs(2) may have potential in reduced risk and treatments of Alzheimer's disease but geographic source of the plant material, climatation, and time of harvest may effect their effectiveness. It is understandable that commercially available herbal medicinal products with the same herbal ingredients vary in their content and concentration of chemical constituents when compared between manufacturers.

 Polygala tenuifolia also known as Yuan Zhi is a genus Polygala, belonging to family Polygalaceae, native to China. The herb has been used in TCM to insomnia, forgetfulness, emotional and disorientation with abundance of phlegm, seizures, anxiety, listlessness, boils, abscesses, sores,etc.
Extract of dried root of Polygala tenuifolia Willdenow was found to provide some protective effects against neuronal death and cognitive impairments in Alzheimer's disease (AD), in the study by the Seoul National University(23). Tenuigenin, a crude extract of Polygala tenuifolia Willd. significantly decreased Abeta secretion from COS-7 cells without altering the ratio of Abeta1-40 and Abeta-42 (in differentiation of change in Abeta metabolism) probably through inhibition of the deposit of beta-site APP cleaving enzyme(causing increased levels of amyloid beta (Abeta) peptide, an early and critical feature of Alzheimer's disease)(24) or inhibited the secretion of A beta in SH-SY5Y APP 695 cells (amyloid precursor protein (APP)) via BACE1 inhibition(reduced risk of the build up of beta-amyloid and slow or stop Alzheimers disease)(25). Ninjin-yoei-to (NYT; Ren-shen-yang-rong-tang in Chinese formula, among 14 kinds of component herbs in NYT, the roots of Polygala tenuifolia  extracts increased nerve growth factor NGF levels from the astrocytes(star shaped glial cells with function of support to neurons and clean up debris within the brain)(26).
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(1) Epidemiology of Alzheimer's disease: occurrence, determinants, and strategies toward intervention. by Qiu C, Kivipelto M, von Strauss E.(PubMed)
(2) The Use of Herbal Medicine in Alzheimer's Disease—A Systematic Review by Leopoldo Luiz dos Santos-Neto,1 Maria Alice de Vilhena Toledo,2 Patrícia Medeiros-Souza,3 and Gustavo Almeida de Souza(PubMed)

(23) Novel cognitive improving and neuroprotective activities of Polygala tenuifolia Willdenow extract, BT-11 by Park CH, Choi SH, Koo JW, Seo JH, Kim HS, Jeong SJ, Suh YH.(PubMed) (24) Tenuifolin, an extract derived from tenuigenin, inhibits amyloid-beta secretion in vitro by Lv J, Jia H, Jiang Y, Ruan Y, Liu Z, Yue W, Beyreuther K, Tu P, Zhang D(PubMed)
(25) Tenuigenin treatment decreases secretion of the Alzheimer's disease amyloid beta-protein in cultured cells by Jia H, Jiang Y, Ruan Y, Zhang Y, Ma X, Zhang J, Beyreuther K, Tu P, Zhang D(PubMed)
(26) Induction of NGF synthesis in astrocytes by onjisaponins of Polygala tenuifolia, constituents of kampo (Japanese herbal) medicine, Ninjin-yoei-to by Yabe T, Tuchida H, Kiyohara H, Takeda T, Yamada H.(PubMed)

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