. Amyloid-beta-induced pathological behaviors are suppressed by Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 and ginkgolides in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans. J Neurosci. 2006 Dec 13;26(50):13102-13. PubMed.

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  1. Gingko biloba extract has been extensively used in clinical practice despite overwhelming lack of evidence of its effectiveness for existing disease. Its mechanism of action was believed to be related to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as to neuroprotective and neurotransmission regulatory effects. Despite an elusive mechanism of action, Ginkgo biloba was tested in clinical trials, in some of which a modest improvement in activities of daily living (such as eating and dressing), and social behavior were reported. However, no measurable difference in overall cognitive impairment and memory scores were found. Recently, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the U.S. National Institutes of Health has launched a large, multicenter study to determine if Ginkgo biloba may help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer disease or vascular dementia. The trial is currently ongoing.

    Wu and colleagues provided a very nicely designed study where they attempted to dissect effectiveness of particular components of the Gingko biloba extract. Based on their studies in a C. elegans model, they postulated additional neuroprotective and anti-oligomerization properties of the Gingko biloba extract. They found that Ginkolide A is responsible for a majority of the therapeutic benefit. Their results encourage further testing of Ginkolide A in Alzheimer disease transgenic mice. Should Ginkolide A be proven to be effective in reducing the level of Aβ oligomers and preventing memory deficits, it may be tried in human trials. One has to remember, however, that adverse effects associated with Ginkgo biloba extract include increased propensity for bleeding and gastrointestinal irritation. Therefore, the safety profile should be carefully examined along with testing for therapeutic effectiveness of Ginkolide A.

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