In the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, acetylcholinesterase is usually very low.The enzyme is responsible for breaking down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter.
Memory loss in Alzheimer’s has also been associated with high amounts of the amyloid beta-protein. The protein is the main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
So, acetylcholinesterase and amyloid-beta protein serve as drug targets for the treatment of the condition. However, most anti-Alzheimer’s drugs cause hepatotoxicity. Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are the symptoms.
Several studies report the therapeutic potential of the red cedar, Erythroxylum monogynum, for various diseases. It is also said to protect the liver from toxicity.
Recently, K Srinivasa Rao and P Subash from the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Madhya Pradesh, found that it may also useful in treating Alzheimer’s. They took red cedar leaves, dried and powdered them, and extracted compounds using methanol. In the extract, they identified about 50 phytoconstituents using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
They checked the potential of these phytoconstituents to block acetylcholinesterase and amyloid beta protein using molecular simulation and in-silico docking. Five compounds had high affinity for the targets.
Which of these five is the best candidate for drugs to treat Alzheimer’s? Only future in-vitro and in vivo studies can tell.
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