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Medicinal Plants in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Perspective of Traditional Persian Medicine

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Background: Neurodegenerative diseases are a progressive loss of structure and/or function of neurons. Weak therapeutic response and progressive nature of the diseases, as well as a wide range of side effects caused by conventional therapeutic approaches make patients seek for complementary and alternative medicine.

Objective: The aim of the present paper is to discuss the neuropharmacological basis of medicinal plants and their principle phytochemicals which have been used in traditional Persian medicine for different types of neurodegenerative diseases.

Results: Medicinal plants introduced in traditional Persian medicine perform beneficial effects in neurodegenerative diseases via various cellular and molecular mechanisms including suppression of apoptosis mediated by an increase in the expression of anti-apoptotic agents (e.g. Bcl-2) as well as a decrease in the expression and activity of proapoptotic proteins (e.g. Bax, caspase 3 and 9). Alleviating inflammatory responses and suppressing the expression and function of pro-inflammatory cytokines like Tumor necrosis factor α and interleukins, as well as improvement in antioxidative performance mediated by superoxide dismutase and catalase, are among other neuroprotective mechanisms of traditional medicinal plants. Modulation of transcription, transduction, intracellular signaling pathways including ERK, p38, and MAPK, with upstream regulatory activity on inflammatory cascades, apoptosis and oxidative stress associated pathways, play an essential role in the preventive and therapeutic potential of the plants in neurodegenerative diseases.

Conclusion: Medicinal plants used in traditional Persian medicine along with their related phytochemicals by affecting various neuropharmacological pathways can be considered as future drugs or adjuvant therapies with conventional pharmacotherapeutics; though, further clinical studies are necessary for the confirmation of their safety and efficacy.
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Keywords: Neurodegenerative disease; antioxidant; inflammatory cytokine; neuroprotective; persian medicine; phytotherapy

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: April 1, 2018

This article was made available online on March 16, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Medicinal Plants in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Perspective of Traditional Persian Medicine".

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  • Current Drug Metabolism aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments in drug metabolism and disposition. The journal serves as an international forum for the publication of timely reviews in drug metabolism. Current Drug Metabolism is an essential journal for academic, clinical, government and pharmaceutical scientists who wish to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments. The journal covers the following areas:

    In vitro systems including CYP-450; enzyme induction and inhibition; drug-drug interactions and enzyme kinetics; pharmacokinetics, toxicokinetics, species scaling and extrapolations; P-glycoprotein and transport carriers; target organ toxicity and interindividual variability; drug metabolism and disposition studies; extrahepatic metabolism; phase I and phase II metabolism; recent developments for the identification of drug metabolites and adducts.
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