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Interaction of Plant Extracts with Central Nervous System Receptors

PanTherapeutics, 1095 Lutry, Switzerland
Vietnam National Institute of Medicinal Materials, Vietnam Ministry of Health, Hanoi 144, Vietnam
School of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vietnam National University, Hanoi 144, Vietnam
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: João Rocha
Medicines 2017, 4(1), 12;
Received: 30 December 2016 / Revised: 10 February 2017 / Accepted: 15 February 2017 / Published: 23 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
PDF [310 KB, uploaded 23 February 2017]


Background: Plant extracts have been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of various maladies including neurological diseases. Several central nervous system receptors have been demonstrated to interact with plant extracts and components affecting the pharmacology and thereby potentially playing a role in human disease and treatment. For instance, extracts from Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort) targeted several CNS receptors. Similarly, extracts from Piper nigrum, Stephania cambodica, and Styphnolobium japonicum exerted inhibition of agonist-induced activity of the human neurokinin-1 receptor. Methods: Different methods have been established for receptor binding and functional assays based on radioactive and fluorescence-labeled ligands in cell lines and primary cell cultures. Behavioral studies of the effect of plant extracts have been conducted in rodents. Plant extracts have further been subjected to mood and cognition studies in humans. Results: Mechanisms of action at molecular and cellular levels have been elucidated for medicinal plants in support of standardization of herbal products and identification of active extract compounds. In several studies, plant extracts demonstrated affinity to a number of CNS receptors in parallel indicating the complexity of this interaction. In vivo studies showed modifications of CNS receptor affinity and behavioral responses in animal models after treatment with medicinal herbs. Certain plant extracts demonstrated neuroprotection and enhanced cognitive performance, respectively, when evaluated in humans. Noteworthy, the penetration of plant extracts and their protective effect on the blood-brain-barrier are discussed. Conclusion: The affinity of plant extracts and their isolated compounds for CNS receptors indicates an important role for medicinal plants in the treatment of neurological disorders. Moreover, studies in animal and human models have confirmed a scientific basis for the application of medicinal herbs. However, additional investigations related to plant extracts and their isolated compounds, as well as their application in animal models and the conducting of clinical trials, are required. View Full-Text
Keywords: medicinal plants; plant extracts and compounds; CNS receptors; in vivo evaluations medicinal plants; plant extracts and compounds; CNS receptors; in vivo evaluations
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Lundstrom, K.; Pham, H.T.; Dinh, L.D. Interaction of Plant Extracts with Central Nervous System Receptors. Medicines 2017, 4, 12.

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