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Research Article Open Access

Is Ayahuasca a Potential Ethnic Plant for the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease?


Objective: Investigate the MAO inhibitory properties, toxicity, behavioral and neuroprotective properties of ayahuasca in mice and dopamine rich neuroblastoma cells in order to assess its potential effects on PD. Methods: This study examined the effects of the soluble extract of Banisteriopsis caapi on the activity MAO in mouse brain, the MAO inhibitory activity using HPLC with electrochemical detection and the animal´s behavior in an open field and marble burying test. In vitro cell-based assays in neuroblastoma NB69 cells were employed for evaluation of the antioxidant property of ayahuasca by measuring the auto-oxidation to quinones upon dopamine exposure and its neuroprotective effects against cytotoxicity induced by DA and rotenone. The neuroprotective activity was determined by MTT, LDH and trypan blue or propidium iodide (PI) staining. Results: Intraperitoneal injection in mice of ayahuasca extract produced a significant striatal inhibitory effect on MAO A and MAO B activity. In mice striatum of ayahuasca treated mice there is an elevation of dopamine and reduction of the levels of di-hydroxy-phenyl acetic acid (DOPAC), homovanillic acid (HVA) and 5-hydroxy-indole acetic acid (5-HIAA). After ayahuasca administration, the mice display less anxiogenic behavior in marble burying test and less exploratory activities in the open field tests. Results demonstrated no significant antioxidative and neuroprotective effects of ayahuasca on dopamine and rotenone toxicity. Conclusion: Ayahuasca extract due its strong inhibitory effect on MAO A activity and more powerful inhibition of MAO B, and absence of toxicity could be used as an alternative or complementary therapy for the treatment of Parkinson´s disease.

Juan Perucho, Fernando Alarcón, María Ángeles Mena, Justo García de Yebenes and Maria Jose Casarejos*

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