Neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinsons disease (PD), Alzheimers disease (AD), Huntingtons disease (HD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are currently incurable pathologies with huge social and economic impacts closely related to the increasing of life expectancy in modern times. Although the clinical and neuropathological aspects of these debilitating disorders are distinct, they share a pattern of neurodegeneration in anatomically or functionally related regions. For each disease, presently available treatments only address symptoms and do not alter the course or progression of the underlying diseases. In this context, the search for new effective chemical entities, capable of acting on diverse biochemical targets, with new mechanisms of action and low toxicity are genuine challenges to research groups and the pharmaceutical industry. This medical need has led to the reemerging of modern natural products chemistry that has yielded sophisticated and complex new lead molecules for drug discovery and development. In this review we discuss some of the main contributions of the natural products chemistry that covers multiple and varied plant species. Advances in the discovery of active constituents of plants, herbs, and extracts prescribed by traditional medicine practices for the treatment of senile neurodegenerative disorders, especially for PD, in the period after the 2000s is reviewed. The most important contributions from the 1990s are also discussed. The review also focuses on the pharmacological mechanisms of action that might underlie the purported beneficial improvements in memory and cognition, neurovascular function, and in neuroprotection. It is concluded that natural product chemistry brings tremendous diversity and historical precedent to a huge area of unmet medical need.
Keywords: Neurodegenerative disorders, biodiversity, natural products, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, drug discovery, medicinal chemistry
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport