BioScience Trends. 2011;5(3):129-138. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2011.v5.3.129)

Gastrodia elata modulates amyloid precursor protein cleavage and cognitive functions in mice.

Mishra M, Huang J, Lee YY, Chua DSK, Lin X, Hu JM, Heese K


Gastrodia elata (Tianma) is a traditional Chinese medicine often used for the treatment of headache, convulsions, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. The vasodilatory actions of Tianma led us to investigate its specific effects on memory and learning as well as on Alzheimer's disease (AD)-related signaling. We conducted a radial arm water maze analysis and the novel object recognition test to assess the cognitive functions of Tianma-treated mice. Our data show that Tianma enhances cognitive functions in mice. Further investigations revealed that Tianma enhances the α-secretase-mediated proteolytic processing of the amyloid precursor protein (App) that precludes the amyloid-β peptide production and supports the non-amyloidogenic processing of App which is favorable in AD treatment. We hypothesize that Tianma promotes cognitive functions and neuronal survival by inhibiting β-site App-cleaving enzyme 1 activity and promoting the neuroprotective α-secretase activity.

KEYWORDS: Alzheimer's disease, β-Amyloid precursor protein, Kampo, Neurodegeneration, traditional Chinese medicine

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