Progressive neuronal loss is a typical characteristic of neurodegenerative diseases. In Parkinson’s disease, the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the basal ganglia results in impaired mobility and flawed muscle control. The loss of cholinergic neurons largely in the basal forebrain contributes to memory and attention deficits and the overall cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease. This being said, neuroprotective drugs should be expected to preserve and/or restore the functions affected by neuronal loss, and substantially prevent cell death. The endocannabinoid system, comprising lipid mediators able to bind to and activate cannabinoid receptors, has emerged as a therapeutic target of potential interest in a variety of central nervous system diseases. Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is one of the most important endocannabinoids, which has a key role in modulating oxidative stress and inflammatory response with neuroprotective potential in neurological disorders. Neurodegenerative diseases undergo varied, progressive stages. The current therapeutical approaches are beginning to fall short when it comes to meet the expected results, urging to either develop or identify or develop new effective treatments. This chapter discusses the neuroprotective potential of new drugs, aiming to shed some light on their proposed mechanism of action and their effect in cellular and animal models of neurodegeneration.
Part of the book: Neuroprotection