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Vinpocetine is also known as ethyl apovincaminate; ethyl apovincaminoate; eburnamenine-14-carboxylic acid ethyl ester; 3 alpha, 16 alpha-apovincaminic acid ethyl ester; ethyl apovincamin-22-oate; and cavinton, which is sometimes used generically for a branded product with that name. Another vinca alkaloid called vinconate is also being researched as a possible cognition enhancer.
Several mechanisms have been proposed for the possible actions of vinpocetine. Vinpocetine has been reported to have calcium-channel blocking activity, as well as voltage-gated sodium channel blocking activity. It has also been reported to inhibit the acetylcholine release evoked by excitatory amino acids and to protect neurons against excitotoxicity. In addition, vinpocetine has been shown to inhibit a cyclic GMP phosphodiesterase, and it is speculated that this inhibition enhances cyclic GMP levels in the vascular smooth muscle, leading to reduced resistance of cerebral vessels and increase of cerebral flow. In some studies, vinpocetine has demonstrated antioxidant activity equivalent to that of vitamin E.
The primary claim made for vinpocetine is that it decreases fatality and dependency in ischemic stroke. Research results are mixed. Vinpocetine has not been helpful in Alzheimer's disease, but there is some suggestion that it might help some with other dementias and cerebral dysfunction. Very preliminary research additionally suggests that vinpocetine may help protect the eye and ear from injuries caused by trauma (and, in the case of the eye, from infection) and that it might be gastro protective, ameliorate symptoms of motion sickness and help prevent atherosclerosis.
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