A Mini-Review on the Neuroprotective Effects of Extracts and Metabolites of <i>Momordica charantia<i>



  • Eric W.C. Chan Faculty of Applied Sciences, UCSI University, 56000 Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Charantin, α-Eleostearic acid, Protocatechuic acid, Polysaccharides


This mini-review is on the neuroprotective effects of Momordica charantia (MC), a climbing cucurbit better well-known for its anti-diabetic and anti-cancer properties. Commonly known as bitter gourd or bitter melon, MC is a belongs to the family Curcubitaceae. Bitter gourd is rich in bioactive chemical constituents such as polysaccharides, cucurbitane triterpenoids, triterpene glycosides, phenolic acids, flavonoids, essential oils, saponins, fatty acids and proteins. The neuroprotective activities of MC extracts and metabolites can be categorized into different nervous system disorders as targets. They are central nervous system injury, neuronal damage, defective memory, neuronal cancer, neuro-inflammation, cognitive impairment and aging. Studies on the neuroprotective activities of MC juice, extracts, fractions, essential oil and metabolites are based on models of induced brain, cerebral ischemic/reperfusion and neuronal injury. Neuroprotective studies on MC are also based on models of induced neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Research on neurological cancer cells include studies on neuroblastoma and glioma cells. Bioactive metabolites with neuroprotective activities include polysaccharides, protocatechuic acid, charantin and α-eleostearic acid. Aspects for further research are suggested.


Iriti M, Vitalini S, Fico G, Faoro F. Neuroprotective herbs and foods from different traditional medicines and diets. Molecules. 2010; 15(5):3517-3555.

Valarmathi N, Sree RS, Rajan TJ. Neuroprotective effects of Momordica charantia: A review from preclinical studies. Int J Res Pharm Sci. 2020; 11(2):1902-1907.

Chi H, Chang HY, Sang TK. Neuronal cell death mechanisms in major neurodegenerative diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2018; 19(10):3082-3100.

Rehman MU, Wali AF, Ahmad A, Shakeel S, Rasool S, Ali R, Rashid SM, Madkhali H, Ganaie MA, Khan R. Neuroprotective strategies for neurological disorders by natural products: An update. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2019; 17(3):247-267.

Kumar GP, Anilakumar KR, Naveen S. Phytochemicals having neuroprotective properties from dietary sources and medicinal herbs. Pharmacogn J. 2015; 7(1):1-7.

Dey A, Nandy S, Mukherjee A, Pandey DK. Plant natural products as neuroprotective nutraceuticals: Preclinical and clinical studies and future implications. Proc Nat Acad Sci, Biol Sci. 2020; 90:929-943.

Behera TK, Behera S, Bharathi LK, John KJ, Philipp W. Simon PW, Jack E. Staub JE. Bitter gourd: Botany, horticulture, breeding. Hortic Rev. 2010; 37:101-141.

Lu A, Charles J. Momordica. Flora China; 2011; 19:28-30.

Dandawate PR, Subramaniam D, Padhye SB, Anant S. Bitter melon: A panacea for inflammation and cancer. Chin J Nat Med. 2016; 14(2):81-100.

Gayathry KS, John JA. A comprehensive review on bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.) as a gold mine of functional bioactive components for therapeutic foods. Food Prod Proc Nutr. 2022; 4(1):1-4.

Subratty AH, Gurib‐Fakim A, Mahomoodally F. Bitter melon: An exotic vegetable with medicinal values. Nutr Food Sci. 2005; 35(3):143-147.

Tan SP, Kha TC, Parks SE, Roach PD. Bitter melon (Momordica charantia L.) bioactive composition and health benefits: A review. Food Rev Int. 2016; 32(2):181-202.

Chaturvedi P. Antidiabetic potentials of Momordica charantia: Multiple mechanisms behind the effects. J Med Food. 2012; 15(2):101-107.

Joseph B, Jini D. Antidiabetic effects of Momordica charantia (bitter melon) and its medicinal potency. Asian Pac J Trop Dis. 2013; 3(2):93-102.

Bora AF, Kouame KJ, Li X, Lu L, Pan Y. New insights into the bioactive polysaccharides, proteins, and triterpenoids isolated from bitter melon (Momordica charantia) and their relevance for nutraceutical and food application: A review. Int J Biol Macromol. 2023:123173.

Richter E, Geetha T, Burnett D, Broderick TL, Babu JR. The effects of Momordica charantia on type 2 diabetes mellitus and Alzheimer’s disease. Int J Mol Sci. 2023; 24(5):4643.

Jia S, Shen M, Zhang F, Xie J. Recent advances in Momordica charantia: Functional components and biological activities. Int J Mol Sci. 2017; 18(12):2555-2580.

Li Z, Xia A, Li S, Yang G, Jin W, Zhang M, Wang S. The pharmacological properties and therapeutic use of bitter melon (Momordica charantia L.). Curr Pharmacol Rep. 2020; 6:103-109.

Mukherjee S, Karati D. Exploring the phytochemistry, pharmacognostic properties, and pharmacological activities of medically important plant Momordica charantia. Pharmacol Res - Mod Chin Med. 2023:100226.

Grover JK, Yadav SP. Pharmacological actions and potential uses of Momordica charantia: A review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004; 93(1):123-132.

Sur S, Ray RB. Bitter melon (Momordica charantia), a nutraceutical approach for cancer prevention and therapy. Cancers. 2020; 12(8):2064.

Fang EF, Froetscher L, Scheibye-Knudsen M, Bohr VA, Wong JH, Ng TB. Emerging antitumor activities of the bitter melon (Momordica charantia). Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2019; 20(3):296-301.

Subair BK, Ade-Ademilua OE, Osinubi AA. Effect of Momordica charantia leaf extract on female fertility and foetal well-being in Sprague-Dawley rats. Trop J Nat Prod Res. 2022; 6(10):1719-1722.

Prasesti GK, Anggadiredja K, Kurniati NF. Momordica charantia fruit extract on cardiac biomarker serum attenuation in rats and its bioactive compound molecular docking against SIRT-1 protein. Trop J Nat Prod Res. 2023; 7(1):2229-2233.

Joshi A, Soni P, Malviya S, Kharia A. Memory enhancing activity of Momordica charantia by scopolamine induced amnesia in rats. Int J Compr Adv Pharmacol. 2017; 2:11-18.

Pathakota R, Chunduru S, Damu U, Pitta L. Neuroprotective effects of Momordica charantia on scopolamine induced Alzheimer’s disease. World J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2017; 6(4):2141-2155.

Huang HJ, Chen SL, Chang YT, Chyuan JH, Hsieh-Li HM. Administration of Momordica charantia enhances the neuroprotection and reduces the side effects of LiCl in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Nutrients. 2018; 10(12): 1888.

Choi JR, Kim JH, Lee S, Cho EJ, Kim HY. Protective effects of protocatechuic acid against cognitive impairment in an amyloid beta-induced Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Food Chem Toxicol. 2020; 144:111571.

Sin SM, Kim JH, Cho EJ, Kim HY. Cognitive improvement effects of Momordica charantia in amyloid beta-induced Alzheimer's disease mouse model. J Appl Biol Chem. 2021; 64(3): 299-307.

Guo D, Zhou J, Zhang M, Taximaimaiti R, Wang X, Wang H. Momordica charantia polysaccharides attenuates MPP+-induced injury in Parkinson’s disease mice and cell models by regulating TLR4/MyD88/NF-κB pathway. Int J Polym Sci. 2021; Article ID 5575636: 15 pp.

Kim KB, Lee S, Kang I, Kim JH. Momordica charantia ethanol extract attenuates H2O2-induced cell death by its antioxidant and anti-apoptotic properties in human neuroblastoma SK-N-MC cells. Nutrients. 2018; 10(10): 1368.

Deligöz H, Cumaoğlu A. Hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis in SH-SY5Y cells: Protective effect of Momordica charantia fruit extract. J Exper Clin Med. 2023; 40(3):497-501.

Wang B, Guo XJ, Cai H, Zhu YH, Huang LY, Wang W, Luo L, Qi SH. Momordica charantia-derived extracellular vesicles-like nanovesicles inhibited glioma proliferation, migration, and invasion by regulating the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway. J Funct Foods. 2022;90:104968.

Duan ZZ, Zhou XL, Li YH, Zhang F, Li FY, Su-Hua Q. Protection of Momordica charantia polysaccharide against intracerebral hemorrhage-induced brain injury through JNK3 signaling pathway. J Recept Signal Transduct Res. 2015; 35(6):523-529.

Gong J, Sun F, Li Y, Zhou X, Duan Z, Duan F, Zhao L, Chen H, Qi S, Shen J. Momordica charantia polysaccharides could protect against cerebral ischemia/ reperfusion injury through inhibiting oxidative stress mediated c-Jun N-terminal kinase 3 signaling pathway. Neuropharmacology. 2015; 91:123-134.

Hu Z, Li F, Zhou X, Zhang F, Huang L, Gu B, Shen J, Qi S. Momordica charantia polysaccharides modulate the differentiation of neural stem cells via SIRT1/Β-catenin axis in cerebral ischemia/reperfusion. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2020; 11:1-4.

Kung WM, Lin CC, Kuo CY, Juin YC, Wu PC, Lin MS, Klivényi P. Wild bitter melon exerts anti-inflammatory effects by upregulating injury-attenuated CISD2 expression following spinal cord injury. Behav Neurol. 2020; Article ID 1080521: 12 pp.

Kung WM, Lin MS. Beneficial impacts of alpha-eleostearic acid from wild bitter melon and curcumin on promotion of CDGSH iron-sulphur domain 2: Therapeutic roles in CNS injuries and diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2021; 22(7):3289-3308.

Ma J, Fan H, Cai H, Hu Z, Zhou X, Li F, Chen H, Shen J, Qi S. Promotion of Momordica charantia polysaccharides on neural stem cell proliferation by increasing SIRT1 activity after cerebral ischemia/reperfusion in rats. Brain Res Bull. 2021; 170:254-263.

Cai H, Huang LY, Hong R, Song JX, Guo XJ, Zhou W, Hu ZL, Wang W, Wang YL, Shen JG, Qi SH. Momordica charantia exosome-like nanoparticles exert neuroprotective effects against ischemic brain injury via inhibiting matrix metalloproteinase 9 and activating the AKT/GSK3β signaling pathway. Front Pharmacol. 2022; 13:908830.

Oyeleye SI, Olasehinde TA, Fasakin OW, Oboh G, Saliu JA. Phyllanthus amarus Schumach. & Thonn. and Momordica charantia L extracts improve memory function, attenuate cholinergic and purinergic dysfunction, and suppress oxidative stress in the brain of doxorubicin-treated rats. Phytomed Plus. 2022; 2(2):100283.

Rahman MM, Selim S, Uddin MM, Adhikary AB, Haque MR, Kabir MN, Alauddin M, Aminullah M. Effect of Momordica charantia (korola) in global cerebral ischemia-induced neuronal damage in rat brain. Med Res Chronicles. 2022; 9(4):224-236.

Malik ZA, Singh M, Sharma PL. Neuroprotective effect of Momordica charantia in global cerebral ischemia and reperfusion induced neuronal damage in diabetic mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;133(2): 729-734.

Malik ZA, Tabassum N, Sharma PL. Attenuation of experimentally induced diabetic neuropathy in association with reduced oxidative-nitrosative stress by chronic administration of Momordica charantia. Adv Biosci Biotechnol. 2013; 4(3):356-363.

Choi JR, Choi JM, Lee S, Cho KM, Cho EJ, Kim HY. The protective effects of protocatechuic acid from Momordica charantia against oxidative stress in neuronal cells. Korean J Pharmacogn. 2014; 45(1):11-16.

Li Q, Chen N, Cai H, Tang Y, Zhou X, Huang Y, Gong M, Qin C, Wei X, Qi S. Analysis of Momordica charantia polysaccharide components and their effects on KA-induced oxidative stress and neuronal loss in the hippocampus of epileptic rats. World J Neurosci. 2018; 8(2):113-123.

Hsu SK, Hung CF, Yang HC, Weng JR, Wang SJ. TCD, a triterpenoid isolated from wild bitter gourd, reduces synaptosomal release of glutamate and protects against kainic acid-induced neuronal death. Food Funct. 2020; 11(11):9858-9867.

Pattarachotanant N, Prasansuklab A, Tencomnao T. Momordica charantia L. extract protects hippocampal neuronal cells against PAH-induced neurotoxicity: Possible active constituents include stigmasterol and vitamin E. Nutrients. 2021; 13(7):2368.

Miri A, Askari SF, Shahraki E. Examining the effects of hydro-alcoholic extract of Momordica charantia fruit on avoidance memory alterations in mice using step-through model. J Fundam Appl Sci. 2019; 11(1):101-116.

Suswidiantoro V, Azmi NU, Lukmanto D, Saputri FC, Mun'im A, Jusuf AA. The neuroprotective potential of turmeric rhizome and bitter melon on aspartame-induced spatial memory impairment in rats. Heliyon. 2023;e21693.

Kim KB, Lee S, Heo JH, Kim JH. Neuroprotective effects of Momordica charantia extract against hydrogen peroxide-induced cytotoxicity in human neuroblastoma SK-N-MC cells. J Nutr Health. 2017; 50(5):415-425.

Tamilanban T. In vitro neuroprotective effect of charantin from Momordica charantia against neurotoxin and endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced cell death in SH-SY5Y cells. Int J Green Pharm. 2018; 12(3):555-560.

Nerurkar PV, Johns LM, Buesa LM, Kipyakwai G, Volper E, Sato R, Shah P, Feher D, Williams PG, Nerurkar VR. Momordica charantia (bitter melon) attenuates high-fat diet-associated oxidative stress and neuroinflammation. J Neuroinflammation. 2011; 8:1-9.

Deng Z, Yuan C, Yang J, Peng Y, Wang W, Wang Y, Gao W. Behavioral defects induced by chronic social defeat stress are protected by Momordica charantia polysaccharides via attenuation of JNK3/PI3K/AKT neuroinflammatory pathway. Ann Translat Med. 2019; 7(1):6-17.

Kim JH, Choi JR, Cho EJ, Kim HY. Protective effect of protocatechuic acid, phenolic compound of Momordica charantia, against oxidative stress and neuroinflammation in C6 glial cell. J Korean Med Obesity Res. 2020; 20(1):10-19.

Wang D, Wang E, Li Y, Teng Y, Li H, Jiao L, Wu W. Anti-aging effect of Momordica charantia L. on D-galactose-induced subacute aging in mice by activating PI3K/AKT signaling pathway. Molecules. 2022; 27(14):4502.

Yue J, Guo P, Jin Y, Li M, Hu X, Wang W, Wei X, Qi S. Momordica charantia polysaccharide ameliorates D-galactose-induced aging through the Nrf2/β-catenin signaling pathway. Metab Brain Dis. 2023; 38(3):1067-1077.

Hu Z, Li F, Zhou X, Zhang F, Huang L, Gu B, Shen J, Qi S. Momordica charantia polysaccharides modulate the differentiation of neural stem cells via SIRT1/Β-catenin axis in cerebral ischemia/reperfusion. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2020; 11:1-4.

Zhang F, Lin L, Xie J. A mini-review of chemical and biological properties of polysaccharides from Momordica charantia. Int J Biol Macromol. 2016; 92:246-253.

Zheng J, Shang M, Dai G, Dong J, Wang Y, Duan B. Bioactive polysaccharides from Momordica charantia as 60.functional ingredients: A review of their extraction, bioactivities, structural-activity relationships, and application prospects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2023; 14:1-24.

Xu X, Shan B, Liao CH, Xie JH, Wen PW, Shi JY. Anti-diabetic properties of Momordica charantia L. polysaccharide in alloxan-induced diabetic mice. Int J Biol Macromol. 2015; 81:538-543.

Wu XG, Wang ZG, Cai Y, Yang Y, Wang M. Extraction, isolation, purification and composition of Momordica charantia polysaccharide. Chin J Bioproc Eng. 2011; 9(1): 19-23.

Desai S, Tatke P. Charantin: An important lead compound from Momordica charantia for the treatment of diabetes. J Pharmacogn Phytochem. 2015; 3(6):163-166.

Mahwish, Saeed F, Sultan MT, Riaz A, Ahmed S, Bigiu N, Amarowicz R, Manea R. Bitter melon (Momordica charantia L.) fruit bioactives charantin and vicine potential for diabetes prophylaxis and treatment. Plants. 2021; 10(4): 730.

Kai H, Akamatsu E, Torii E, Kodama H, Yukizaki C, Akagi I, Ino H, Sakakibara Y, Suiko M, Yamamoto I, Okayama A. Identification of a bioactive compound against adult T-cell leukaemia from bitter gourd seeds. Plants. 2013;3(1):18-26.

Tsuzuki T, Tokuyama Y, Igarashi M, Nakagawa K, Ohsaki Y, Komai M, Miyazawa T. α-Eleostearic acid is quickly converted to conjugated linoleic acid in rats. J Nutr. 2004; 134(10):2634-2639.

Grossmann ME, Mizuno NK, Dammen ML, Schuster T, Ray A, Cleary MP. Eleostearic acid inhibits breast cancer proliferation by means of an oxidation-dependent mechanism. Cancer Prev Res. 2009; 2(10):879-886.

Kobori M, Ohnishi-Kameyama M, Akimoto Y, Yukizaki C, Yoshida M. α-Eleostearic acid and its dihydroxy derivative are major apoptosis-inducing components of bitter gourd. J Agric Food Chem. 2008; 56(22):10515-10520.

Zhuo RJ, Wang F, Zhang XH, Zhang JJ, Xu J, Dong W, Zou ZQ. α-Eleostearic acid inhibits growth and induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells via HER2/HER3 signaling. Mol Med Rep. 2014; 9(3): 993-998.

Yeh CH, Shen ZQ, Lin CC, Lu CK, Tsai TF. Rejuvenation: Turning back time by enhancing CISD2. Int J Mol Sci. 2022; 23(22):14014.

Chou MC, Lee YJ, Wang YT, Cheng SY, Cheng HL. Cytotoxic and anti-inflammatory triterpenoids in the vines and leaves of Momordica charantia. Int J Mol Sci. 2022; 23(3): 1071.

Lee YT, Pao LH, Chen CY, Huang SQ, Kumaran A, Chyuan JH, Chiu CH. Microwave-and ultrasound-assisted extraction of cucurbitane-type triterpenoids from Momordica charantia L. cultivars and their antiproliferative effect on SAS human oral cancer cells. Foods. 2022; 11(5):729.

Noruddin NA, Hamzah MF, Rosman Z, Salin NH, Shu-Chien AC, Muhammad TS. Natural compound 3β,7β,25-trihydroxycucurbita-5,23(E)-dien-19-al from Momordica charantia acts as PPARγ ligand. Molecules. 2021; 26(9): 2682.

Lau A, Tymianski M. Glutamate receptors, neurotoxicity and neurodegeneration. Eur J Physiol. 2010; 460:525-542.

Lewerenz J, Maher P. Chronic glutamate toxicity in neurodegenerative diseases − What is the evidence? Front Neurosci. 2015; 9:469.

Koneri RB, Samaddar S, Simi SM, Rao ST. Neuroprotective effect of a triterpenoid saponin isolated from Momordica cymbalaria Fenzl in diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Indian J Pharmacol. 2014; 46(1):76-81.

Samaddar S, Balwanth RK, Sah SK, Chandrasekhar KB. Protective effect of saponin of Momordica cymbalaria Fenzl on high-glucose induced neuropathy in NB-41A3 mouse neuroblastoma cells. Int J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2016; 8(4):229-235.

Samaddar S, Balwanth RK, Bhattarai A, Chandrasekhar KB. Oleanane-type triterpenoid saponin of Momordica cymbalaria exhibits neuroprotective activity in diabetic peripheral neuropathy by affecting the polyol pathway. Int J Pharm Sci Res. 2016; 7(2):618-625.

Mazzio E, Georges B, McTier O, Soliman KF. Neurotrophic effects of Mu Bie Zi (Momordica cochinchinensis) seed elucidated by high-throughput screening of natural products for NGF mimetic effects in PC-12 cells. Neurochem Res. 2015; 40:2102-2112.

Wu YH, Chen SY, Yang JY, Chen YY, Yen GC. Gac (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng.) oil supplementation mitigates cognitive decline in AlCl3-induced rats through the regulation of Alzheimer's disease markers and autophagy via gut-brain communication. J Funct Foods. 2023;110:105860.



How to Cite

Chan, E. W. (2024). A Mini-Review on the Neuroprotective Effects of Extracts and Metabolites of <i>Momordica charantia<i>: http://www.doi.org/10.26538/tjnpr/v8i1.2. Tropical Journal of Natural Product Research (TJNPR), 8(1), 5727–5733. Retrieved from https://tjnpr.org/index.php/home/article/view/3365