2016 Volume 38 Issue 2 Pages 139-148
Neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs) are a group of intractable diseases that significantly affect human health. To date, the pathogenesis of NDDs is still poorly understood and effective disease-modifying therapies for NDDs have not been established. NDDs share the common morphological characteristic of the deposition of abnormal proteins in the nervous system, including neurons. Autophagy is one of the major processes by which damaged organelles and abnormal proteins are removed from cells. Impairment of autophagy has been found to be involved in the pathogenesis of NDDs, and the regulation of autophagy may become a therapeutic strategy for NDDs. In recent years, some active compounds from plants have been found to regulate autophagy and exert neuroprotection against NDDs, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, spinocerebellar ataxia 3, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, via activating autophagy. In this paper, we review recent advances in the use of active ingredients from plants for the regulation of autophagy and treatment of NDDs.