The peptide Cerebrolysin is a very powerful neurotrophic agent that has been used in Europe for decades to treat a variety of neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s and brain injury sequelae. It has been shown to improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and in patients with schizophrenia. It also has been shown to reduce beta amyloid deposits in the brain which are a driving cause of Alzheimer’s disease. It is a neurotrophic factor that stimulates the production of new neurons and promotes brain stem cell proliferation. It is a safe drug for short term use and does not interact with most drugs.
In a small clinical trial involving patients with severe traumatic brain injury, cerebrolysin improved the rate of good outcome when added to the initial treatment regimen. Six months after initial therapy 67% of the patients receiving cerebrolysin achieved a good outcome while only 49% of the non-cerebrolysin group did so. This improvement was based on the patient’s admitting GCS score which is a common measure of progress in patients after traumatic brain injury.
Cerebrolysin can scavenge free radicals during CNS insult and stimulate protein synthesis to increase neuronal survival (Gutmann et al., 2002). It also decreases apoptosis in dendritic connections between cells, which is the hallmark of degeneration in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease (Joseph et al., 1995). It also reverses the pathology that leads to axonal loss in apoE-deficient mice that are an animal model for neurodegenerative diseases and atherosclerosis (Uto et al., 1995).
Cerebrolysin has been shown to potentiate brain alpha activity and reduce slow EEG delta frequencies in healthy elderly people. It has also been shown to improve memory performance in older people with memory problems and in patients with schizophrenia.