Scientists discovered an active compound in mushrooms that boosts nerve growth

Mushrooms magnify memory by boosting nerve growth.

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The traditional medicinal mushroom Hericium erinaceus is known for enhancing peripheral nerve regeneration by targeting nerve growth factor (NGF) neurotrophic activity.

In a new study, scientists from The University of Queensland purified and biologically identified new active compounds from H. erinaceus. The compound could boost nerve growth and enhance memory.

Hericium erinaceus, also known as Lion’s Mane mushroom, was used to treat unrelated ailments such as stomach aches and as prophylactic treatment of cancers. In this study, scientists wanted to determine their potential effect on brain cells scientifically.

Several studies have reported strong neurotrophic effects, including brain cell growth and memory improvement.

Surprisingly, scientists discovered that the active compounds enhance neuron projections, extending and connecting to other neurons when we tested the neurotrophic effects of substances isolated from Hericium erinaceus on cultured brain cells.

Surprisingly, scientists discovered that the active compounds enhance neuron projections, extending and connecting to other neurons when they tested the neurotrophic effects of compounds isolated from Hericium erinaceus on cultured brain cells.

Professor Frederic Meunier from the Queensland Brain Institute said, “Using super-resolution microscopy, we found the mushroom extract and its active components largely increase the size of growth cones, which are particularly important for brain cells to sense their environment and establish new connections with other neurons in the brain.”

Co-author UQ’s Dr. Ramon Martinez-Marmol said the discovery had applications that could treat and protect against neurodegenerative cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”

“Our idea was to identify bioactive compounds from natural sources that could reach the brain and regulate the growth of neurons, resulting in improved memory formation.”

Dr. Dae Hee Lee from CNGBio Co, which has supported and collaborated on the research project, said the properties of lion’s mane mushrooms had been used to treat ailments and maintain health in traditional Chinese medicine since antiquity.

“This important research is unraveling the molecular mechanism of lion’s mane mushroom compounds and their effects on brain function, particularly memory.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Ramón Martínez‐Mármol et al., Hericerin derivatives activate a pan‐neurotrophic pathway in central hippocampal neurons converging to ERK1 /2 signaling enhancing spatial memory, Journal of Neurochemistry (2023). DOI: 10.1111/jnc.15767
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