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Therapeutic Potential of Traditional Oriental Medicines in Targeting Tau Pathology: Insights from Cell-free and Cell-based Screening


Hyun Ha Park, Byeong-Hyeon Kim, Seol Hwa Leem, Yong Ho Park, Hyunju Chung, Doo-Han Yoo, Insu Park, Yunkwon Nam, Sujin Kim, Soo Jung Shin and Minho Moon*   Pages 1 - 15 ( 15 )


Background: Traditional Oriental Medicines (TOMs) formulated using a variety of medicinal plants have a low risk of side effects. In previous studies, five TOMs, namely Dangguijakyaksan, Hwanglyeonhaedoktang, Ukgansan, Palmijihwanghwan, and Jowiseungchungtang have been commonly used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease. However, only a few studies have investigated the effects of these five TOMs on tau pathology.

Objective: This study aimed to examine the effect of five TOMs on various tau pathologies, including post-translational modifications, aggregation and deposition, tau-induced neurotoxicity, and tau-induced neuroinflammation.

Methods: Immunocytochemistry was used to investigate the hyperphosphorylation of tau induced by okadaic acid. In addition, the thioflavin T assay was used to assess the effects of the TOMs on the inhibition of tau K18 aggregation and the dissociation of tau K18 aggregates. Moreover, a water-soluble tetrazolium-1 assay and a quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction were used to evaluate the effects of the TOMs on tau-induced neurotoxicity and inflammatory cytokines in HT22 and BV2 cells, respectively.

Results: The five TOMs investigated in this study significantly reduced okadaic acid-induced tau hyperphosphorylation. Hwanglyeonhaedoktang inhibited the aggregation of tau and promoted the dissociation of tau aggregates. Dangguijakyaksan and Hwanglyeonhaedoktang attenuated tau-induced neurotoxicity in HT22 cells. In addition, Dangguijakyaksan, Hwanglyeonhaedoktang, Ukgansan, and Palmijihwanghwan reduced tauinduced pro-inflammatory cytokine levels in BV2 cells.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that five TOMs are potential therapeutic candidates for tau pathology. In particular, Hwanglyeonhaedoktang showed the greatest efficacy among the five TOMs in cell-free and cell-based screening approaches. These findings suggest that Hwanglyeonhaedoktang is suitable for treating AD patients with tau pathology.


Neurodegenerative disease, dementia, alzheimer’s disease, tau, traditional oriental medicines, screening assay.


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