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Acorus calamus (Acoraceae) also known as sweet flag in Indian traditional medicine is generally used for treatment of various ailments like cough, fever, bronchitis, inflammation, depression, tumours, haemorrhoids, skin diseases, insomnia, hysteria, epilepsy, and loss of memory. Asarone is a chemical compound of the phenylpropanoid class found in plants such as Acorus and Asarum. There are two isomers, α (trans) and β (cis). Alpha-asarone is potentially toxic compared to beta-asarone and hence pharmacological elucidation of beta-asarone is wide. Beta-asarone due to its blood brain barrier crossing property it is well elucidated for potential neuroprotective effect. The beneficial properties of beta-asarone are attributed to molecular pathways of endoplasmic reticulum stress, autophagy and synaptogenesis through IRE1/XBP1 ER stress pathway, mitochondrial ASK1/MKK7/JNK pathway, CaMKII/CREB/Bcl-2 expression and PERK/CHOP/Bcl-2/Beclin-1 pathways. The memory enhancing property of beta-asarone is said to be due to beclin dependent autophagy by PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. The aim of this review is to highlight the neuroprotective role of beta asarone in terms of neuroinflammation, apoptosis, neurogenesis and autophagy with special emphasis on two neurodegenerative disorders Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease along with its beneficial property in elucidating synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis. Further research on toxicity and pharmacokinetics of beta-asarone are much needed to bring this potential compound into therapeutic use.
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