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Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761). State of knowledge in the dawn of the year 2000

  [ 61 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Clostre F • • July 1, 1999

EGb 761 is a standardized extract of dried leaves of Ginkgo biloba containing 24% ginkgo-flavonol glycosides, 6% terpene lactones such as ginkgolides A, B, C, J and bilobalide. Its broad spectrum of pharmacological activities allows it to be in adequacy to the numerous pathological requirements--hemodynamic, hemorheological, metabolic--which occur in cerebral, retinal, cochleovestibular, cardiac or peripheral ischemia. Moreover, EGb 761 has direct effects against necrosis and apoptosis of neurons and improves neural plasticity as evidenced in vestibular compensation.

At the molecular and the cellular levels, some evidence obtained with animal models indicates that EGb 761 can interact as a free radical-scavenger and a inhibitor of lipid peroxidation with all, or nearly all reactive oxygen species; maintains ATP content by a protection of mitochondrial respiration and preservation of oxidative phosphorylations; exerts arterial and venous vasoregulator effects involving the release of endothelial factors and the catecholaminergic system. Moreover, EGb 761 regulates ionic balance in damaged cells and exerts a specific and potent Platelet-activating factor antagonist activity.

Numerous well-controlled clinical studies, realized in Europe and in USA, have revealed that EGb 761 is an effective therapy for a wide variety of disturbances of cerebral function, ranging from cerebral impairment of ischemic vascular origins (i.e. multi infarct dementia), early cognitive decline to mild-to-moderate cases of the more severe types of senile dementias (including Alzheimer's disease) or mixed origins (i.e. psychoorganic origin).

Improvement of signs and symptoms have been demonstrated for cognitive functions, particularly for memory loss, attention, alertness, vigilance, arousal and mental fluidity. Some clinical studies have showed that EGb 761 treatment may improve the capacity of geriatric patients to cope with the stressful demands of daily life.

The explanation is a dual stress-alleviating action of EGb 761: its facilitates behavioral adaptation to stress and may decrease the excess of cortisol release to stress. Moreover, EGb 761 shows a specific neuroprotective effects to hippocampic cells. Regarding the visual system, experimental studies have shown that EGb 761 can inhibit or reduce the functional retinal impairments resulting from ischemia-reperfusion, photo-degeneration, diabetic or proliferative retinopathy.

Clinical studies have revealed that EGb 761 may be useful in treating visual activity impairments and damages to the visual field associated with chronic cerebrovascular insufficiency, senile macular degeneration and diabete mellitus. Regarding the vestibular and auditory systems, experimental and clinical studies have shown the efficacy of EGb 761 in treating hypoacusis, tinnitus, vertigo, dizziness and other symptoms of vestibulocochlear disorders.

At least, adequately controlled studies in patients with peripheral arterial occlusive disease have provided good evidence for therapeutic efficacy in intermittent claudication. The future of EGb 761 is undoubtedly in the promise in slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Indeed, two recent american clinical studies have shown the efficacy and safety of EGb 761 in patients with mild to severe Alzheimer's disease and multi-infarct dementia. In clinical terms, progression of symptoms was delayed by approximately 6 months.

Actually new clinical studies are undertaken in USA and Europe. At the dawn of the third millenium (the Sixth for Ginkgo biloba) we propose a state of art about it.

Source: Ann Pharm Fr 1999 Jul;57 Suppl 1:1S8-88. Institut Henri Beaufour, Les Ulis.
PMID: 10481350, UI: 99410964

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