Effects of Palmitoylethanolamide on Neurodegenerative Diseases: A Review from Rodents to Humans.
Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) stands out among endogenous lipid mediators for its neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic functions. PEA belonging to the N-acetylanolamine class of phospholipids was first isolated from soy lecithin, egg yolk, and peanut flour. It is currently used for the treatment of different types of neuropathic pain, such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and many other conditions. The properties of PEA, especially of its micronized or ultra-micronized forms maximizing bioavailability and efficacy, have sparked a series of innovative research to evaluate its possible application as therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative diseases. Neurodegenerative diseases are widespread throughout the world, and although they are numerous and different, they share common patterns of conditions that result from progressive damage to the brain areas involved in mobility, muscle coordination and strength, mood, and cognition. The present review is aimed at illustrating in vitro and in vivo research, as well as human studies, using PEA treatment, alone or in combination with other compounds, in the presence of neurodegeneration. Namely, attention has been paid to the effects of PEA in counteracting neuroinflammatory conditions and in slowing down the progression of diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Frontotemporal dementia, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Multiple Sclerosis. Literature research demonstrated the efficacy of PEA in addressing the damage typical of major neurodegenerative diseases.