Evidence points to toxic, misfolded proteins termed plaques and tangles that stress and damage brain cells contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a structure found in all cells that helps assemble proteins and detects errors. The ER’s capacity to confine these pathogenic molecules spins out of control when it detects malformed proteins in nerve cells, leading to nerve cell death and nervous system degradation.
A new study in Frontiers in Pharmacology and Huazhong University of Science and Technology found that berberine, a natural chemical, can reduce endoplasmic reticulum stress and reduce plaques and tangles in an Alzheimer’s mice model through inhibiting endoplasmic reticulum stress signaling that causes plaques and tangles, alleviating cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s rats. These findings support the use of berberine and other ER stress-reducing agents to treat Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders. Wu and colleagues assessed the learning and memory ability of Alzheimer’s mice fed a standard diet or food enhanced with berberine (260 mg/kg) showed positive results in favor of using berberine in the spatial memory improvement.
Berberine Protects Alzheimer’s Mice against ER Stress and Toxic Proteins
Consistent with the behavioral findings, berberine therapy significantly decreased the levels of both toxic proteins implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Berberine has been demonstrated to be effective at inhibiting the onset of hippocampus endoplasmic reticulum stress and the subsequent signaling cascades that result in the production of amyloid plaques.
One of the berberine’s benefits in treating dementia is that it can cross the blood-brain barrier, which is necessary for affecting the neurological system. It has already been found to have a low toxicity profile and few gastrointestinal adverse effects when taken orally. Findings about berberine suggest that the molecule may have therapeutic promise for Alzheimer’s disease and maybe other neurodegenerative illnesses associated with ER stress and protein buildup.