Peptide Primer: Cerebrolysin and Your Brain

July 01, 2019

References: WikipediaJr NeurosurgDrugs TodayJ Amer Geriat Soc,

Cerebrolysin isn't just one peptide. It is at least four. It is derived from pig brains, sort of the way insulin was initially derived from pig pancreases. (Insulin is a 51 amino acid peptide - the first and most famous of peptides.). It is a mixture of growth factors. BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor) is the most important but there are others. GDNF (Glial cell-line Derived Neurotophic Factor), NGF (Nerve Growth Factor) and CNTF (Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor). 
All of these peptides are critical players in keeping your brain healthy. And many of them are absent or markedly reduced as we age. 
BDNF is critical to long term memory. Most of our brain neurons are formed prenatally but memory requires new ones. BDNF is central to that. 
GDNF is critical to the survival of motor and dopamine-secreting neurons. 
NGF was found back in the 60s (earning a Nobel prize) and is critical to the growth of new neurons, but also to beta cells in the pancreas. 
CNTF (Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor) is just as intriguing. It helps make your neurotransmitters and connect the neurons to each other. 

We could spend all day in the details of each of these and I would encourage any reader to do so. Just Google away, starting with Wikipedia and off you go. It is fascinating physiology, central to how a healthy brain works. What happens if your brain isn't so healthy? What would you want for your brain if you had a concussion? A stroke? Parkinson's? Alzheimer's? 
For example: concussion. The shock wave of bonking your head disconnects millions of neurons. Folks report feeling brain fog for years after a concussion. This articlereferences the safety and beneficial effect of cerebrolysin on concussions in 55 people - published in 2005 - 15 years ago! Last year a rat study done in a randomized way showed statistical improvement. The CAPTAIN study in Asia has been started but doesn't have results yet in humans. 
How about cognitive decline and Alzheimer's? There is early research that indicates it's helpful. A pretty well-done study from Korea in 2000 showed benefit. 
Parkinson's Disease? Ditto! Rat studies and temptation's in humans but still waiting long term trials.

Cerebrolysin is being widely used all over Asia. It's actually pretty cheap. Therein lies the explanation. Why hasn't it been used in America? It doesn't have the promise of being a blockbuster drug that reverses these horrible illnesses. And because it's in the public forum, it can't be patented. 
Does it cause harm? NOOOOOOO!!!! No adverse side effects. These exact same neuropeptides are in you. And I've heard of anecdotal cases with dramatic effects.

WWW: What will work for me, or you? Wow, if I have a severe concussion, I want to be able to crawl to my office and give myself big IV doses of cerebrolysin. I'm adding it to my offering to anyone with concerns of cognitive decline. I think everyone deserves a trial run of it. It can be given IV or by insulin shot needles in your tummy. It has no toxicity that we have detected. The other half of the Hippocratic Oath is "If there is something that helps more than what there is out there now, and what we have now is worthless, don't withhold it!"

Pop Quiz:

  1. Cerebrolysin is derived from? What? Answer: Pig Brains
  2. It is a mix of how many neuropeptides? Answer: At least 4 that we know of.
  3. What does BDNF stand for? Answer: Brain-derived neurotophic factor, the most most important brain factor.
  4. We have great research that shows it causes dramatic effects? Answer: Whoa Nellie. We have great anecdotes in acute concussion of dramatic effect and statistically valid rat studies but human studies are mostly overseas, where it is the best act in town, but still not curing.
  5. If you were fuzzy and couldn't drive anymore because you weren't sure you would find your way home, what would you do? Answer: Your call.