Amyloid-beta-induced pathological behaviors are suppressed by Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 and ginkgolides in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans

Yanjue Wu
Zhixin Wu
Peter Butko
Yves Christen


Amyloid-beta (A beta) toxicity has been postulated to initiate synaptic loss and subsequent neuronal degeneration seen in Alzheimer's disease (AD). We previously demonstrated that the standardized Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761, commonly used to enhance memory and by AD patients for dementia, inhibits A beta-induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells. In this study, we use EGb 761 and its single constituents to associate A beta species with A beta-induced pathological behaviors in a model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans. We report that EGb 761 and one of its components, ginkgolide A, alleviates A beta-induced pathological behaviors, including paralysis, and reduces chemotaxis behavior and 5-HT hypersensitivity in a transgenic C. elegans. We also show that EGb 761 inhibits A beta oligomerization and A beta deposits in the worms. Moreover, reducing oxidative stress is not the mechanism by which EGb 761 and ginkgolide A suppress A beta-induced paralysis because the antioxidant L-ascorbic acid reduced intracellular levels of hydrogen peroxide to the same extent as EGb 761, but was not nearly as effective in suppressing paralysis in the transgenic C. elegans. These findings suggest that (1) EGb 761 suppresses A beta-related pathological behaviors, (2) the protection against A beta toxicity by EGb761 is mediated primarily by modulating A beta oligomeric species, and (3) ginkgolide A has therapeutic potential for prevention and treatment of AD.