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Chinese Herbal Medicine Interventions in Neurological Disorder Therapeutics by Regulating Glutamate Signaling

[ Vol. 18 , Issue. 4 ]


Yan Liu, Shan Wang, Jun Kan, Jingzhi Zhang, Lisa Zhou, Yuli Huang * and Yunlong Zhang *   Pages 260 - 276 ( 17 )


Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, and its signaling is critical for excitatory synaptic transmission. The well-established glutamate system involves glutamate synthesis, presynaptic glutamate release, glutamate actions on the ionotropic glutamate receptors (NMDA, AMPA, and kainate receptors) and metabotropic glutamate receptors, and glutamate uptake by glutamate transporters. When the glutamate system becomes dysfunctional, it contributes to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, depression, epilepsy, and ischemic stroke. In this review, based on regulating glutamate signaling, we summarize the effects and underlying mechanisms of natural constituents from Chinese herbal medicines on neurological disorders. Natural constituents from Chinese herbal medicine can prevent the glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity via suppressing presynaptic glutamate release, decreasing ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors expression in the excitatory synapse, and promoting astroglial glutamate transporter expression to increase glutamate clearance from the synaptic cleft. However, some natural constituents from Chinese herbal medicine have the ability to restore the collapse of excitatory synapses by promoting presynaptic glutamate release and increasing ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors expression. These regulatory processes involve various signaling pathways, which lead to different mechanistic routes of protection against neurological disorders. Hence, our review addresses the underlying mechanisms of natural constituents from Chinese herbal medicines that regulate glutamate systems and serve as promising agents for the treatment of the above-mentioned neurological disorders.


Neurological disorders, natural constituents, chinese herbal medicine, glutamate, glutamate receptors, glutamate transporters.


Key Laboratory of Neuroscience, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou 511436, Department of Biology, Center of Pain Medicine and Medical School, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen 518055, Department of Oncology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou 510006, Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, The Second Affiliated Hospital, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou 510260, Neuroscience Initiative, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, Department of Cardiology, Shunde Hospital, Southern Medical University (The First People’s Hospital of Shunde Foshan), Foshan 528300, Shenzhen Research Institute of Xiamen University, Shenzhen 518000

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