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Cerebrolysin is a synthetic nootropic drug which consists of low-molecular peptides and possesses neuroprotective and neurotrophic repair properties. The active fragment of cerebrolysin is made of proteins with very low molecular masses that do not exceed 10.000 daltons. This means they can penetrate the blood-brain barrier and reach neurons directly.

Cerebrolysin has been proven to have neurotrophic action similar to nerve growth factors, which cause peripheral and central neuronal stimulation. It improves efficiency within the brain’s aerobic metabolic processes and improves intracellular peptide synthesis.

The neuroprotective properties of this nootropic agent help to shield neurons from lactocidosis to prevent formation of free radicals. It has been used for treating stroke, traumatic brain injury, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Read on to learn more about the benefits and side effects of this peptide. 

Benefits of Cerebrolysin

Cerebrolysin has numerous potential uses for the brain. Here are some of the key benefits and uses. 

Brain Protection and Cell Growth

Cerebrolysin protects brain cells and prevents their death due to harmful conditions (such as stroke and traumatic brain injuries). Cerebrolysin improved the recovery and outcome of patients after stroke and traumatic brain injury in 6 studies (including two DB-RCTs and over 600 subjects). It also improved communication skills in infants after severe brain injury (DB-RCT with 158 patients).

Additionally, cerebrolysin:

  • Promotes the growth of new brain cells (neurogenesis)
  • Lowers inflammation in the brain
  • Improves brain cell communication, which enhances learning capacity
  • Increases brain energy (by increasing glucose uptake by brain cells) and protein production in cells
  • Cerebrolysin significantly increased the number of new synapses in  the hippocampus

  • Has been shown to promote neurovascular protection and repair
  • Beneficial effects on the improvement of cerebral endothelial cell integrity
  • Can significantly reduce the production of free radicals

Alzheimer's, Dementia, Depression, TBI & ADHD Treatments

Cerebrolysin increases brain levels of beta-amyloid deposits, which are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. A review of 15 clinical trials including 2,446 subjects found that high doses of this drug reduced psychological symptoms and slowed disease progression in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Further, in a study of 60 children with ADHD, cerebrolysin improved symptoms in 70 to 86% of subjects.

Finally, a combination of cerebrolysin with antidepressants was more effective in improving symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression than antidepressants alone.

Potential Side Effects

Cerebrolysin is safe and generally well-tolerated by patients. Side effects are usually mild and temporary and may include:

  • Headache/dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea


Clinical trials have reported that cerebrolysin can improve cognitive function in older people with memory problems and in those with schizophrenia, although the effects are modest. In a trial with schizophrenia patients, cerebrolysin treatment improved cognition and memory. Another trial of older adults with memory loss found that a peptide preparation derived from cerebrolysin improved memory performance but not verbal fluency. The effect on memory was lower than that of currently approved drugs for Alzheimer's disease. An uncontrolled clinical trial reported that healthy elderly people had better memory performance after one dose of cerebrolysin but this result could have been caused by the placebo effect.

No clinical studies have tested whether cerebrolysin can prevent dementia, but some preclinical research supports the idea. In preclinical studies, cerebrolysin protected neurons and brain slices from damage, reduced inflammation, promoted the formation of new neural connections (synapses), lessened cognitive impairment and reduced the plaques and tangles common in Alzheimer’s patients.

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Beghi, Ettore, et al. “European Academy of Neurology and European Federation of Neurorehabilitation Societies guideline on pharmacological support in early motor rehabilitation after acute ischaemic stroke.” European Journal of Neurology (2021)

CHEN, Honghui, et al. Trophic factors counteract elevated FGF-2-induced inhibition of adult neurogenesis. Neurobiology of aging, 2007, 28. Jg., nr. 8, S. 1148 – 1162.

ZHANG, Chunling, et al. Cerebrolysin enhances neurogenesis in the ischemic brain and improves functional outcome after stroke. Journal of neuroscience research, 2010, 88. Jg., nr. 15, S. 3275 – 3281

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Alvarez X.A. et al., Cerebrolysin reduces microglial activation in vivo and in vitro: a potential mechanism of neuro-protection, J Neuronal Transm 2000; 59; 281-292

Teng, Hua; Li, Chao; Zhang, Yi, Lu, Mei, Chopp, Michael, Zhang, Zheng Gang, Melcher-Mourgas, Melanie, Fleckenstein, Burkhard. Therapeutic effect of Cerebrolysin on reducing impaired cerebral endothelial cell permeability, NeuroReport: March 24, 2021 - Volume 32 - Issue 5 - p 359-366 

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Rockenstein E. et al., The neuroprotective effects of Cerebrolysin trade mark in a transgenic model of Alzheimer’s disease are associated with improved behavioral performance. J Neural Transm 2003; 110; 1313-27

Bornstein, Natan M., et al. „Safety and efficacy of Cerebrolysin in early post-stroke recovery: a meta-analysis of nine randomized clinical trials.“ Neurological Sciences 39.4 (2018): 629-640.

Muresanu, Dafin F., et al. „Efficacy and safety of cerebrolysin in neurorecovery after moderate-severe traumatic brain injury: results from the CAPTAIN II trial.“ Neurological Sciences 41.5 (2020): 1171-1181

Gauthier, Serge, et al. Cerebrolysin in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Dementia and geriatric cognitive disorders, 2015, 39. Jg., Nr. 5-6, S. 332-347

Xiao, S.; Yan, H.; Yao, P. The efficacy of cerebrolysin in patients with vascular dementia: Results of a Chinese multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. Hong Kong Journal of Psychiatry, 1999, 9. Jg., Nr. 2, S. 13.

Guekht, Alla B., et al. Cerebrolysin in vascular dementia: improvement of clinical outcome in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter trial. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, 2011, 20. Jg., Nr. 4, S. 310-318

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