Science -- Health: Researchers from the University of Queensland have isolated the active component
of a mushroom that can be consumed
and found that it improves memory and stimulates the growth of nerve cells.
Hericium erinaceus is a species of mushroom, and according to Professor Frederic Meunier of the Queensland
Brain Institute, the team has discovered new active compounds derived from the mushroom.
In pre-clinical studies, researchers found that lion's mane mushrooms improved both the growth of brain cells
"Extracts from these so-called 'lion's mane' mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine in Asian countries
for centuries, but we wanted to scientifically determine their potential effect on brain cells," Professor Meunier said.
"Pre-clinical testing found the lion's mane mushroom had a significant impact on the growth of brain cells and improving memory.
"Laboratory tests measured the neurotrophic effects of compounds isolated from Hericium erinaceus on cultured brain cells, and surprisingly we found that the active compounds promote neuron projections, extending and connecting to other neurons.
"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 Martinez-Marmol said.
According to Dr. Dae Hee Lee of CNGBio Co., which has supported and collaborated on the research project, the properties
of lion's mane mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine since antiquity to treat ailments and maintain health.
"This important research is unravelling the molecular mechanism of lion's mane mushroom compounds and their effects on brain function, particularly memory," Dr Lee said.
The study was published in the Journal of Neurochemistry.
UQ acknowledges the collaborative efforts of researchers from the Republic of Korea's Gachon University and Chungbuk National University.
University of Queensland. "Mushrooms magnify memory by boosting nerve growth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2023.
WNCTIMES by Marjorie Farrington