A plant-based compound from the Chinese foxglove (Radix rehmanniae) showed promise as a means of protecting the brain from cerebral diseases. A Chinese study reported that catalpol encouraged the remyelination process that fixed neurological damage caused by multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders.
The study was supported by the Capital Medical University. Its findings were released in the medical journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
A mouse model was used to simulate human multiple sclerosis. The animals received myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein 35-55 (MOG) that caused them to develop experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), which has similar effects to multiple sclerosis.
One group of EAE mice was set aside as a negative control. The positive control group was given prednisone acetate, a corticosteroid that is used to treat multiple sclerosis. The rest received either one of three different doses of catalpol (H, M, and L).
At the end of the treatment period, the mice were sacrificed. Blood and brain tissue samples were analyzed using different tests to determine the protective effects of the catapol doses.
Catalpol treatment boosted neurological functions, prevented inflammatory cells from entering the brain tissue, and stopped demyelination. It also reduced the levels of inflammation-causing T helper 17 (Th17) cells in the blood.
The herbal medicine encouraged the production of myelin basic protein that makes up the sheaths of brain cells and the nerve-glial antigen that binds the proteins together. In addition, it improved oligodendrocyte transcription factors 1 and 2 that produced myelin.
Based on their findings, the researchers believed that catalpol could shield the brain tissue of EAE mice and promote the repair of the myelin damaged by multiple sclerosis.
Yang T, Zheng Q, Wang S, Fang L, Liu L, Zhao H, Wang L, Fan Y. EFFECT OF CATALPOL ON REMYELINATION THROUGH EXPERIMENTAL AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALOMYELITIS ACTING TO PROMOTE OLIG1 AND OLIG2 EXPRESSIONS IN MICE. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017;17(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12906-017-1642-2.