Impact of pharmacological and non-pharmacological modulators on dendritic spines structure and functions in brain

Arehally M. Mahalakshmi, Bipul Ray, Sunanda Tuladhar, Tousif Ahmed Hediyal, Praveen Raj, Annan Gopinath Rathipriya, M. Walid Qoronfleh, Musthafa Mohamed Essa*, Saravana Babu Chidambaram*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Dendritic spines are small, thin, hair-like protrusions found on the dendritic processes of neurons. They serve as independent compartments providing large amplitudes of Ca2+ signals to achieve synaptic plasticity, provide sites for newer synapses, facilitate learning and memory. One of the common and severe complication of neurodegenerative disease is cognitive impairment, which is said to be closely associated with spine pathologies viz., decreased in spine density, spine length, spine volume, spine size etc. Many treatments targeting neurological diseases have shown to improve the spine structure and distribution. However, concise data on the various modulators of dendritic spines are imperative and a need of the hour. Hence, in this review we made an attempt to consolidate the effects of various pharmacological (cholinergic, glutamatergic, GABAergic, sero-tonergic, adrenergic, and dopaminergic agents) and non-pharmacological modulators (dietary in-terventions, enriched environment, yoga and meditation) on dendritic spines structure and func-tions. These data suggest that both the pharmacological and non-pharmacological modulators pro-duced significant improvement in dendritic spine structure and functions and in turn reversing the pathologies underlying neurodegeneration. Intriguingly, the non-pharmacological approaches have shown to improve intellectual performances both in preclinical and clinical platforms, but still more technology-based evidence needs to be studied. Thus, we conclude that a combination of pharmacological and non-pharmacological intervention may restore cognitive performance syner-gistically via improving dendritic spine number and functions in various neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3405
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Dendritic spines
  • Diet
  • Enriched environment
  • Modulators
  • Pharmacological modulators
  • Yoga and meditation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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