Neurodegenerative diseases are among the most serious health problems affecting millions
of people worldwide. Such diseases are characterized by a progressive degeneration and / or
death of neurons in the central nervous system. Currently, there are no therapeutic approaches to
cure or even halt the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. During the last two decades, much
attention has been paid to the neuroprotective and anti-neurodegenerative activities of compounds
isolated from natural products with high efficacy and low toxicity. Accumulating evidence indicates
that berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid isolated from traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, may act
as a promising anti-neurodegenerative agent by inhibiting the activity of the most important pathogenic
enzymes, ameliorating intracellular oxidative stress, attenuating neuroinflammation, triggering
autophagy and protecting neurons against apoptotic cell death. This review attempts to summarize
the current state of knowledge regarding the therapeutic potential of berberine against neurodegenerative
diseases, with a focus on the molecular mechanisms that underlie its effects on Alzheimer’s,
Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.
Keywords: Neurodegenerative diseases, berberine, neuroprotection, oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, autophagy.
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