Background: Uncaria rhynchophylla (Miq.) Jacks (Rubinaceae), a common herbal medicine
known as Gou-teng in Chinese, is commonly used in Chinese medicine practice for the treatment of
convulsions, hypertension, epilepsy, eclampsia and other cerebral diseases. The major active components
of U. rhynchophylla are alkaloids, terpenoids and flavonoids. The protective effects of U. rhynchophylla
and its major components on central nervous system (CNS) have become a focus of research
in recent decades.
Objective: The study aimed to systematically summarize the pharmacological activities of U. rhynchophylla
and its major components on the CNS.
Methods: This review summarized the experimental findings from our laboratories, together with other
literature data obtained through a comprehensive search of databases including the Pubmed and the Web
Results: U. rhynchophylla and its major components such as rhynchophylline and isorhynchophylline
have been shown to have neuroprotective effects on Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression,
cerebral ischaemia through a number of mechanisms including anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory
actions and regulation on neurotransmitters.
Conclusion: U. rhynchophylla and its major components have multiple beneficial pharmacological
effects on CNS. Further studies on U. rhynchophylla and its major components are warranted to fully
illustrate the underlying molecular mechanisms, pharmacokinetics, and toxicological profiles of these
naturally occurring compounds and their potential for clinical application.