Cerebrolysin peptide is an admixture of enzymatically treated peptides (developmental code FPF-1070) derived from pig brain that contains a variety of neurotrophic factors, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), nerve growth factor (NGF), and ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF). It is known to reduce neurological dysfunction and improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia in small trials.
Several studies have confirmed that cerebrolysin prevents the accumulation of high levels of intracellular calcium, blocks mitochondrial ROS production, and inhibits both m- and m-calpains irreversibly, thus preventing the formation of apoptotic particles in neurons following cerebral ischemia (Gutmann et al., 2002). It is also able to reduce cell death and apoptosis following head injury by enhancing BDNF expression in mice (Zhang L. et al., 2013, Zhang Y. et al., 2017).
This pleiotropic drug has been shown to be effective in multiple preclinical and clinical settings. It significantly decreases apoptosis and neuronal death, inhibits microglial activation, and promotes neurogenesis. This is a great example of how the brain’s natural processes can be stimulated to reverse damage, and thereby restore normal function. In addition, a recent study demonstrated that cerebrolysin delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease for more than a year, which is significantly longer than the delay achieved by donepezil alone. This could have profound public health implications since delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by five years would reduce total disease burden by half.