Magnolia bark extract

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Information on nutritional supplements people with ALS have been taking

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Effects on ALS[edit]

Magnolol and honokiol are low molecular weight lignans isolated from Magnolia officinalis.

Honokiol is a PPAR-gamma activator [1] and GABA-alpha receptor agonist [2]. PPAR-gamma agonists reduce glutamate release [3] and increase its uptake by astrocytes [4], and increase expression and enzymatic activity of catalase [4].

Honokiol and magnolol potently enhance the potentiating effect of 200 nM GABA on [3H]FNM binding with EC50 values of 0.61 microM and 1.6 microM using rat forebrain membranes, with maximal enhancements of 33 and 47%, respectively. [2]

Studies using human U937 promonocytes cells suggested that magnolol differentially down-regulated the pharmacologically induced expression of NF-kappaB-regulated inflammatory gene products MMP-9, IL-8, MCP-1, MIP-1alpha, TNF-alpha. [5]

Honokiol significantly enhances ERK1/2 phosphorylation in a concentration-dependent manner [6] and downregulates Klf4 expression in rat spinal cord injury [7].


Can slow down the central nervous system, concern that it might slow down the nervous system too much when combined with anesthesia and other medications used during and after surgery. May slow blood clotting and cause bleeding during and after surgery. Interactions with alcohol and sedatives. (Source: WebMD).

On the negative side, honokiol and magnolol enhance TNF induced apoptosis [8].

Discussion threads on the ALSTDI forum[edit]

Regulated pathways[edit]

  • Downregulates MMP-9, IL-8, MCP-1, MIP-1alpha, TNF-alpha.
  • Potentiates GABA.
  • Activates PPAR-gamma.
  • Enhances TNF induced apoptosis.

Where to get it[edit]


  1. Atanasov et al.: Honokiol: a non-adipogenic PPARγ agonist from nature. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 2013;1830:4813-9. PMID: 23811337. DOI. BACKGROUND: Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) agonists are clinically used to counteract hyperglycemia. However, so far experienced unwanted side effects, such as weight gain, promote the search for new PPARγ activators. METHODS: We used a combination of in silico, in vitro, cell-based and in vivo models to identify and validate natural products as promising leads for partial novel PPARγ agonists. RESULTS: The natural product honokiol from the traditional Chinese herbal drug Magnolia bark was in silico predicted to bind into the PPARγ ligand binding pocket as dimer. Honokiol indeed directly bound to purified PPARγ ligand-binding domain (LBD) and acted as partial agonist in a PPARγ-mediated luciferase reporter assay. Honokiol was then directly compared to the clinically used full agonist pioglitazone with regard to stimulation of glucose uptake in adipocytes as well as adipogenic differentiation in 3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes and mouse embryonic fibroblasts. While honokiol stimulated basal glucose uptake to a similar extent as pioglitazone, it did not induce adipogenesis in contrast to pioglitazone. In diabetic KKAy mice oral application of honokiol prevented hyperglycemia and suppressed weight gain. CONCLUSION: We identified honokiol as a partial non-adipogenic PPARγ agonist in vitro which prevented hyperglycemia and weight gain in vivo. GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE: This observed activity profile suggests honokiol as promising new pharmaceutical lead or dietary supplement to combat metabolic disease, and provides a molecular explanation for the use of Magnolia in traditional medicine.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Squires et al.: Honokiol and magnolol increase the number of [3H] muscimol binding sites three-fold in rat forebrain membranes in vitro using a filtration assay, by allosterically increasing the affinities of low-affinity sites. Neurochem. Res. 1999;24:1593-602. PMID: 10591411. 1. The bark of the root and stem of various Magnolia species has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat a variety of disorders including anxiety and nervous disturbances. The biphenolic compounds honokiol (H) and magnolol (M), the main components of the Chinese medicinal plant Magnolia officinalis, interact with GABA(A) receptors in rat brain in vitro. We compared the effects of H and M on [3H]muscimol (MUS) and [3H]flunitrazepam (FNM) binding using EDTA/water dialyzed rat brain membranes in a buffer containing 150 mM NaCl plus 5 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.5 as well as [35S]t-butylbicyclophosphorothionate (TBPS) in 200 mM KBr plus 5 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.5. H and M had similar enhancing effects on [3H]MUS as well as on [3H]FNM binding to rat brain membrane preparations, but H was 2.5 to 5.2 times more potent than M. 2. [3H]FNM binding. GABA alone almost doubled [3H]FNM binding with EC50 = 450 nM and 200 nM using forebrain and cerebellar membranes, respectively. In the presence of 5 microM H or M the EC50 values for GABA were decreased to 79 and 89 nM, respectively, using forebrain, and 39 and 78 nM, using cerebellar membranes. H and M potently enhanced the potentiating effect of 200 nM GABA on [3H]FNM binding with EC50 values of 0.61 microM and 1.6 microM using forebrain membranes, with maximal enhancements of 33 and 47%, respectively. Using cerebellar membranes, the corresponding values were 0.25 and 1.1 microM, and 22 and 34%. 3. [3H]MUS binding. H and M increased [3H]MUS binding to whole forebrain membranes about 3-fold with EC50 values of 6.0 and 15 microM. Using cerebellar membranes, H and M increased [3H]MUS binding approximately 68% with EC50 values of 2.3 and 12 microM, respectively. Scatchard analysis revealed that the enhancements of [3H]MUS binding were due primarily to increases in the number of binding sites (Bmax values) with no effect on the high affinity binding constants (Kd values). The enhancing effect of H and M were not additive. 4. [35S]TBPS binding. H and M displaced [35S]TBPS binding from sites on whole rat forebrain membranes with IC50 values of 7.8 and 6.0 microM, respectively. Using cerebellar membranes, the corresponding IC50 values were 5.3 and 4.8 microM. These inhibitory effects were reversed by the potent GABA(A) receptor blocker R5135 (10 nM), suggesting that H and M allosterically increase the affinity of GABA(A) receptors for GABA and MUS by binding to sites in GABA(A) receptor complexes. 5. Two monophenols, the anesthetic propofol (2,6-diisopropylphenol, P) and the anti-inflammatory diflunisal (2',4'-difluoro-4-hydroxy-3-biphenyl carboxylic acid, D) also enhanced [3H]MUS binding, decreased the EC50 values for GABA in enhancing [3H]FNM binding and potentiated the enhancing effect of 200 nM GABA on [3H]FNM binding, although enhancements of [3H]MUS binding for these monophenols were smaller than those for H and M, using forebrain and cerebellar membranes. The enhancing effect of P and D on [3H]MUS binding were almost completely additive. 2,2'-biphenol was inactive on [3H]MUS and [3H]FNM binding. These, and other preliminary experiments, suggest that appropriate ortho (C2) and para (C4) substitution increases the GABA-potentiating activity of phenols. 6. The potentiation of GABAergic neurotransmission by H and M is probably involved in their previously reported anxiolytic and central depressant effects.
  3. Sy et al.: Mechanisms underlying the honokiol inhibition of evoked glutamate release from glutamatergic nerve terminals of the rat cerebral cortex. Synapse 2008;62:890-901. PMID: 18792989. DOI. The effect of honokiol, an active component of Magnolia officinalis, on glutamate release from isolated nerve terminals (synaptosomes) was examined. Honokiol potently inhibited 4-aminopyridine (4-AP)-evoked glutamate release in a concentration-dependent manner, and this effect resulted from a reduction of vesicular exocytosis and not from an inhibition of Ca(2+)-independent efflux via glutamate transporter. The inhibitory action of honokiol was not due to decreasing synaptosomal excitability or directly interfering with the release process at some point subsequent to Ca(2+) influx, because honokiol did not alter the 4-AP-evoked depolarization of the synaptosomal plasma membrane potential or Ca(2+) ionophore ionomycin-induced glutamate release. Rather, examination of the effect of honokiol on cytosolic [Ca(2+)] revealed that the diminution of glutamate release could be attributed to a reduction in voltage-dependent Ca(2+) influx. Consistent with this, the honokiol-mediated inhibition of 4-AP-evoked glutamate release was completely prevented in synaptosomes pretreated with a wide-spectrum blocker of N-, P-, and Q-type Ca(2+) channels, omega-conotoxin MVIIC. In addition, honokiol modulation of 4-AP-evoked glutamate release appeared to involve a protein kinase C (PKC) signaling cascade, in so far as pretreatment of synaptosomes with the PKC inhibitors Ro318220 or GF109203X all effectively occluded the inhibitory effect of honokiol. Furthermore, honokiol attenuated 4-AP-induced phosphorylation of PKC. Together, these results suggest that honokiol effects a decrease in PKC activation, which subsequently attenuates the Ca(2+) entry through voltage-dependent N- and P/Q-type Ca(2+) channels to cause a decrease in evoked glutamate exocytosis. These actions of honokiol may contribute to its neuroprotective effect in excitotoxic injury.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Romera et al.: Ischemic preconditioning reveals that GLT1/EAAT2 glutamate transporter is a novel PPARgamma target gene involved in neuroprotection. J. Cereb. Blood Flow Metab. 2007;27:1327-38. PMID: 17213861. DOI. Excessive levels of extracellular glutamate in the nervous system are excitotoxic and lead to neuronal death. Glutamate transport, mainly by glutamate transporter GLT1/EAAT2, is the only mechanism for maintaining extracellular glutamate concentrations below excitotoxic levels in the central nervous system. We recently showed that neuroprotection after experimental ischemic preconditioning (IPC) involves, at least partly, the upregulation of the GLT1/EAAT2 glutamate transporter in astrocytes, but the mechanisms were unknown. Thus, we decided to explore whether activation of the nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) gamma, known for its antidiabetic and antiinflammatory properties, is involved in glutamate transport. First, we found that the PPARgamma antagonist T0070907 inhibits both IPC-induced tolerance and reduction of glutamate release after lethal oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) (70.1%+/-3.4% versus 97.7%+/-5.2% of OGD-induced lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release and 61.8%+/-5.9% versus 85.9%+/-7.9% of OGD-induced glutamate release in IPC and IPC+T0070907 1 mumol/L, respectively, n=6 to 12, P<0.05), as well as IPC-induced astrocytic GLT-1 overexpression. IPC also caused an increase in nuclear PPARgamma transcriptional activity in neurons and astrocytes (122.1%+/-8.1% and 158.6%+/-22.6% of control PPARgamma transcriptional activity, n=6, P<0.05). Second, the PPARgamma agonist rosiglitazone increased both GLT-1/EAAT2 mRNA and protein expression and [(3)H]glutamate uptake, and reduced OGD-induced cell death and glutamate release (76.3%+/-7.9% and 65.5%+/-15.1% of OGD-induced LDH and glutamate release in rosiglitazone 1 mumol/l, respectively, n=6 to 12, P<0.05). Finally, we have identified six putative PPAR response elements (PPREs) in the GLT1/EAAT2 promoter and, consistently, rosiglitazone increased fourfold GLT1/EAAT2 promoter activity. All these data show that the GLT1/EAAT2 glutamate transporter is a target gene of PPARgamma leading to neuroprotection by increasing glutamate uptake.
  5. Tse et al.: Magnolol suppresses NF-kappaB activation and NF-kappaB regulated gene expression through inhibition of IkappaB kinase activation. Mol. Immunol. 2007;44:2647-58. PMID: 17240450. DOI. The mis-regulation of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) signal pathway is involved in a variety of inflammatory diseases that leds to the production of inflammatory mediators. Our studies using human U937 promonocytes cells suggested that magnolol, a low molecular weight lignan isolated from the medicinal plant Magnolia officinalis, differentially down-regulated the pharmacologically induced expression of NF-kappaB-regulated inflammatory gene products MMP-9, IL-8, MCP-1, MIP-1alpha, TNF-alpha. Pre-treatment of magnolol blocked TNF-alpha-induced NF-kappaB activation in different cell types as evidenced by EMSA. Magnolol did not directly affect the binding of p65/p50 heterodimer to DNA. Immunoblot analysis demonstrated that magnolol inhibited the TNF-alpha-stimulated phosphorylation and degradation of the cytosolic NF-kappaB inhibitor IkappaBalpha and the effects were dose-dependent. Mechanistically, a non-radioactive IkappaB kinases (IKK) assay using immunoprecipitated IKKs protein demonstrated that magnolol inhibited both intrinsic and TNF-alpha-stimulated IKK activity, thus suggesting a critical role of magnolol in abrogating the phosphorylation and degradation of IkappaBalpha. The involvement of IKK was further verified in a HeLa cell NF-kappaB-dependent luciferase reporter system. In this system magnolol suppressed luciferase expression stimulated by TNF-alpha and by the transient transfection and expression of NIK (NF-kappaB-inducing kinase), wild type IKKbeta, constitutively active IKKalpha and IKKbeta, or the p65 subunit. Magnolol was also found to inhibit the nuclear translocation and phosphorylation of p65 subunit of NF-kappaB. In line with the observation that NF-kappaB activation may up-regulate anti-apoptotic genes, it was shown in U937 cells that magnolol enhanced TNF-alpha-induced apoptotic cell death. Our results suggest that magnolol or its derivatives may have potential anti-inflammatory actions through IKK inactivation.
  6. Zhai et al.: Honokiol-induced neurite outgrowth promotion depends on activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2). Eur. J. Pharmacol. 2005;516:112-7. PMID: 15922325. DOI. We have found that honokiol [4-allyl-2-(3-allyl-4-hydroxy-phenyl)-phenol] can promote neurite outgrowth and mobilize intracellular Ca2+ store in primary cultured rat cortical neurons. In this study, we examined the effects of honokiol on extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) and Akt, and their possible relationship to neurite outgrowth and Ca2+ mobilization. Honokiol-induced neurite outgrowth in the cultured rat cortical neurons was significantly reduced by PD98059, a mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MAPKK, MAPK/ERK kinase MEK, direct upstream of ERK1/2) inhibitor, but not by LY294002, a phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K, upstream of Akt) inhibitor. Honokiol also significantly enhanced the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in a concentration-dependent manner, whereas the effect of honokiol on Akt phosphorylation was characterized by transient enhancement in 10 min and lasting inhibition after 30 min. The phosphorylation of ERK1/2 enhanced by honokiol was inhibited by PD98059 as well as by KN93, a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMK II) inhibitor. Moreover, the products of the phosphoinositide specific phospholipase C (PLC)-derived inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate (IP3) and 1,2-diacylglycerol (DAG) were measured after honokiol treatment. Together with our previous findings, these results suggest that the signal transduction from PLC, IP3, Ca2+, and CaMK II to ERK1/2 is involved in honokiol-induced neurite outgrowth.
  7. Liu et al.: Honokiol downregulates Kruppel-like factor 4 expression, attenuates inflammation, and reduces histopathology after spinal cord injury in rats. Spine 2015;40:363-8. PMID: 25774462. DOI. STUDY DESIGN: Randomized experimental study. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the neuroprotective effect of honokiol (HNK) on rats subjected to traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) and the molecular mechanisms. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Inflammation contributes to the secondary injury to the spinal cord. Honokiol has been used as a neuroprotective agent because of its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Kruppel-like factor 4 (Klf4) is a newly identified critical target for the anti-inflammatory effect of HNK. Whether HNK can inhibit inflammatory response in rat model of SCI through mediating the expression of Klf4 has yet to be elucidated. METHODS: Eighty-four adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into 4 groups as sham, SCI, SCI + Vehicle (0.1% propylene glycol in saline, intraperitoneally), and SCI + HNK (20 mg/kg, intraperitoneally) groups. The influences of HNK on the proinflammatory cytokines, microglial activation, neutrophil infiltration, histological changes, and improvement in motor function were assessed. RESULTS: In the SCI group, proinflammatory cytokines, microglial activation, neutrophil infiltration, and Klf4 expression levels were increased compared with the sham group (P < 0.001). HNK intervention downregulated the expression of Klf4, reduced the production of proinflammatory cytokines, inhibited microglial activation, and neutrophil infiltration (P < 0.05). Furthermore, HNK also reduced histopathology and improved functional outcome after traumatic SCI. CONCLUSION: HNK reduces secondary tissue damage and improves locomotor function recovery after SCI through suppressing inflammatory response, and can be used as a potential therapeutic agent for SCI. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: NA.
  8. Ahn et al.: Honokiol potentiates apoptosis, suppresses osteoclastogenesis, and inhibits invasion through modulation of nuclear factor-kappaB activation pathway. Mol. Cancer Res. 2006;4:621-33. PMID: 16966432. DOI. Recent reports have indicated that honokiol can induce apoptosis, suppress tumor growth, and inhibit angiogenesis. In this report, we found that honokiol potentiated the apoptosis induced by tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and chemotherapeutic agents, suppressed TNF-induced tumor cell invasion, and inhibited RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis, all of which are known to require nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) activation. Honokiol suppressed NF-kappaB activation induced by a variety of inflammatory stimuli, and this suppression was not cell type specific. Further studies showed that honokiol blocked TNF-induced phosphorylation, ubiquitination, and degradation of IkappaBalpha through the inhibition of activation of IkappaBalpha kinase and of Akt. This led to suppression of the phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of p65 and NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene expression. Magnolol, a honokiol isomer, was equally active. The expression of NF-kappaB-regulated gene products involved in antiapoptosis (IAP1, IAP2, Bcl-x(L), Bcl-2, cFLIP, TRAF1, and survivin), proliferation (cyclin D1, cyclooxygenase-2, and c-myc), invasion (matrix metalloproteinase-9 and intercellular adhesion molecule-1), and angiogenesis (vascular endothelial growth factor) were also down-regulated by honokiol. Honokiol also down-regulated NF-kappaB activation in in vivo mouse dorsal skin model. Thus, overall, our results indicate that NF-kappaB and NF-kappaB-regulated gene expression inhibited by honokiol enhances apoptosis and suppresses osteoclastogenesis and invasion.